Decentring and Diversifying Southeast Asian Studies: Perspectives from the Region

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Goh Beng Lan
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011 - Area studies - 304 pages

This admirable book contains fascinating autobiographical accounts, by some of Southeast Asia's most eminent scholars, concerning their struggle to find their own voices in interpreting the region to which they belong. The book should be indispensable to anyone interested in thinking about knowledge production and its politics in a postcolonial world. In the views of these scholarly Southeast Asians, we are made to see, in very personal terms, the link between the global crisis in the social sciences and the need to find remedies for it that are neither Eurocentric nor parochially anti-Western.

Professor Alexander Woodside
           Professor of Chinese and Southeast Asian History
           University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

This book marks the shift of the centre of Southeast Asian Studies from the West to Southeast Asia. The insights provided by the authors are not simply explanations of colonial and postcolonial experiences of major Southeast Asian scholars. Rather, the book provides a unique set of intellectual genealogies that show that distinctions between humanities and social sciences are less important than the development of distinctive local and regional traditions and practices of scholarship. Goh Beng-Lans introduction frames the collection through her subtle deconstruction of international discourses on Southeast Asia. This introduction then allows the reader to view the different generations of Southeast Asian scholars in their social, political, and academic contexts. The end result is a combined view of the state of the art of Southeast Asian Studies, a view that is greater than the sum of its national parts.

Professor Adrian Vickers
           Chair of Southeast Asian Studies
           University of Sydney
           Director, Australian Centre for Asian Art and Archaeology

The collection represents a coming of age of scholars from Southeast Asia. What we hear is not bluster that comes from a wounded pride or doctrinal certainties, but a quiet confidence that acknowledges the multiple currents in which their scholarship has been formed, and a willingness to engage the perspective of the other, both within and without. The reflexivity in this volume sets the stage for scholars from the region to develop perspectives and concepts to address the challenges of the new configuration of the Asia being ushered in by ASEAN.

Professor Prasenjit Duara
           Raffles Professor of Humanities and Director of Research
           Humanities and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore


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About the author (2011)

Goh Beng-Lan is Associate Professor and currently Head of the Southeast Asian Studies Department, National University of Singapore.

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