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Southeast Asian Studies at Freiburg

Grounding Area Studies in Social Practice

The University of Freiburg pursues an interdisciplinary concept of research on Southeast Asia. The disciplines involved include Political Science, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Economics and Asian History. Participating scholars conceptualize Area Studies as relational and pursue transculturally-oriented research beyond Orientalism and Occidentalism.

Their research focuses on everyday social practice in its complex plurality and sociocultural diversity. This is connected to cultural transfer and localization processes. Studying social, political, economic, cultural and historical phenomena in Southeast Asia must therefore transcend routine textual analysis. Rather than primarily relying on techniques of discourse analysis, Area Studies on Southeast Asia in Freiburg attaches great importance to empirical research based on extensive field work. While essentially pursuing a constructivist research agenda, it seeks to combine reflectivist approaches with rationalist theoretical arguments. This implies methodological pluralism seeking a convergence of methodologies derived both from hermeneutic and deductive-nomothetic epistemologies.
The mandala concept of Southeast Asian Studies at Freiburg is designed as a program composed of concentric circles radiating from an interdisciplinary and internationalized research and teaching program. All other program components such as methodology training, regional networking, the graduate program, the alumni program and knowledge transfer are closely linked with the research core. It rests on two interconnected pillars: Research on Occidentalism in an associated project sponsored by DFG ("Beyond Occidentalism: Concepts of the 'West' in Asia) and a multi-level research program on democratization in Southeast Asia (including the democratization of international relations, the national polity and local politics through processes of decentralization).


Project Details

Time frame: 15 November 2009 – 31 October 2013

Funding Agency: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) under the program for promoting and strengthening Area Studies in the Federal Republic of Germany


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