Southeast Asia Seminar 2016
– The Promise and Challenge of Democracy in 21st Century Southeast Asia –
Nov 19 – 22, 2016 Yangon, Myanmar
Southeast Asia is facing uncertainty in its political development, and what is central to this uncertainty is the broad possible paths to democratic governance. Since the 1980s, the wide range of experiences with democratic transition has highlighted the difficulties that characterize the region to this day. Increased public participation in democratic processes has been accompanied by opposing trends towards more authoritarian rule. In every country in the region, government accountability is becoming an increasingly important facet of rule. Interestingly, however, the number of full-fledged democratic states in Southeast Asia is still limited. The majority of states can be categorized as different types of hybrid regimes, in which democratic and non-democratic elements exist side-by-side in the same political system. There is great hope for a future of more democratically oriented politics in the near future, but at the same time there is little ground for optimism about democracy and democratization in 21st century Southeast Asia.
This academic seminar looks at the challenges of democracy in politics, society and natural resource management, and explores the possibility, potentiality and probability of democracy in the region. Democracy usually means a series of political institutions, such as free and fair elections, a national parliament with sufficient authority, and competition among political parties. However these institutions do not function without other broader conditions; state governability, rule of law, and accountability; a shared sense of equal citizenship, a knowledge of civil rights, and freedom of speech; economic stability, economic inclusiveness, and physical safety. The speakers in this seminar will address significant issues and concerns relating to the politics of/in democracy, social movements in the making and unmaking of democracy, and the interaction between nature and democratic/undemocratic governance. The seminar includes a one-day field trip within Yangon.
The Southeast Asia Seminar has been held annually by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University since 1977. Organized thematically around a variety of topics, the seminar offers three full days of intensive lectures by experts in the field and group discussions and presentations by the participants.This year, the Southeast Asia Seminar will be an international seminar held in Yangon. It is currently looking for applications from young and up-and-coming scholars in Southeast and East Asia.
[Session I: Politics in/of democracy]
What shapes different political systems in Southeast Asia, and how do the ideas and institutions of democracy affect people’s orientation and political behavior? This session discusses the interactions between formal institutions such as elections, parliament and political parties, on the one hand, and the pressure for more democratic institutional reforms from inside and outside of the ruling elites, on the other, focusing on the challenges to democracy or democratic demand in different conditions and trajectories of political development. Speakers in this session offer a critique of overly optimistic views on democracy, and introduce case studies highlighting the complexity of democratization, the durability of existing orders, and critical factors that promote or undermine the possibility of democratic transition or consolidation.
[Session II: Social Movements and Civil Society]
Social movements are a crucial part of democratization and civil society is imperative actor for supporting it. Since modernization in the region, every country in Southeast Asia has experienced various types of social movements; labor, ecology, environment, ethnic groups, gender, sexuality, peace etc. Although their forms and goals are various, each of them commonly illustrate confrontations between people, society and state, in search of certain values in a specific time and space. The desire for democracy and human rights is one of the common values shared by Southeast Asian people today, but historical processes of adoption and struggles as well as their performances at present are varied in each country. This session, as questioning democracy and state in Southeast Asia, will present a comparative examination of state of the social movements and civil society in some Southeast Asian countries in order to deepen discussions on democratization.
[Session III: Natural Resource Governance]
Southeast Asian countries are often characterized as resource rich societies and management of these natural resource has been always caught attention of policy makers, government officials, scholars NGOs and local communities. The state continues to make natural resources legible in order to make them controllable. This causes various forms of resistance from local communities to maintain their sovereignty. Rapid deforestation and agrarian expansion also impacts these management arrangements. But natural resource management is embedded within a larger system of governance, at local, national and regional levels. In this session, we will investigate how the development or deterioration of democratic governance has affected natural resource governance regimes, and the implications of these linkages for the resource extraction economies of the region. The democratic transition under way in Myanmar provides a timely, yet complex, view on the interactions between national and local governance in the management of its resources. A regional comparative perspective from other countries of the region with a longer history of natural resource governance research may offer useful frameworks of analysis, opening up productive and constructive paths of investigation.
November 19 (Sat.) to Nov 22 (Tue.), 2016
Participants will arrive in Yangon, Myanmar on November 18 and depart for their respective country of residence on November 23, 2016.
Applicants who want to join the seminar must have a strong academic interest in the topic of this year’s seminar, and should be prepared to participate actively and constructively, and join in discussions for the full four-day seminar. We accept applications from young and up-and-coming scholars in Southeast Asia and East Asia and will select 20 participants. Nationality balance will be taken into consideration while selecting participants.
Registration is free. Round-trip airfare and accommodation will be covered by the organizers.
August 4, 2016
The seminar committee will select on the basis of the application forms, and only accepted applicants will be informed by September 9, 2016.
Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University
University of Yangon
MEXT Research Program “Promoting the Study of Sustainable Humanosphere in Southeast Asia”
JSPS Core-to-Core Project “Collaborative Research on Transitional Justice and Inclusive Economic Development in Developing ASEAN Countries”
The Japan Foundation Asia Center
The Southeast Asia seminar has been held annually by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University since 1976. Aiming to deepen the understanding of Southeast Asia from various perspectives, the seminar offers three days of intensive lectures by experts on Southeast Asia, together with presentations and group discussion by the participants. This year, the seminar will be held in Yangon, Myanmar, co-organized by University of Yangon.
Group Photo Gallery
Group Photo of Participants on the 39th Southeast Asian Seminar, Rissei Cinema, Japan 25-30 Jan. 2016
Group Photo of Participants on the 37th Southeast Asian Seminar, Universiti Sains Malaysia 29-31 Oct. 2013
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