SSH.2012.4.1-2. National and regional integration in South East Asia

The objective of this topic is to enable research on common challenges relevant to all South East Asian countries that could be met more effectively by collective action rather than individually. The research should be multidisciplinary, including the humanities; it should use and integrate quantitative and qualitative methodologies, develop forward-looking approaches when relevant, and create knowledge platforms to ensure exchange and transfer of knowledge within South East Asia and with Europe. It should help European researchers specialised in South East Asian studies to strengthen their cooperation in the framework of the European Research Area.

The research should address the following issues with the aim of investigating more closely the processes leading to national and regional integration in South East Asia; and analyse their broader geopolitical significance for the region and for the European Union:

  1. Issues of national integration. All countries in the region are confronted with the difficulties, resolved with varying success, of integrating large ethnic, cultural, religious and social diversities into national frameworks. At the same time, current trends of economic modernisation and development have increased inequalities between cities, rural areas, and provinces. Research should therefore analyse the relationships evolving between central and local powers, and between central authorities and minorities. It should include the transformation of rural areas, the participation of peripheries in national development, and the place of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities within this national framework.

  2. Issues of regional integration. The South East Asia region has since ancient times played an important role as a crossroads between civilisations. Historically, Hinduism played a prevailing role in the development of Southeast Asian city-states and centres of civilisation. The expanding economic and cultural influence of China has been significant recently. Research should bear on the mobility of people, goods, ideas and cultures in the region through exchanges, migration and diasporas, changing frontier dynamics (notably through the development of regions and towns with cross-border significance), the growing influence of China (possibly rivalled by India tomorrow). It should assess how these changes may have an impact on ASEAN as a model of regional integration or lead to new forms of regional cooperation/integration (for instance with North-East Asia).

The research should cover at least four different countries in South East Asia.