Learning from the Diversity of Southeast Asia and other Regions
On January 1st, 2017, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) started as a newly integrated institution, between the former Center for Southeast Asian Studies and the Center for Integrated Area Studies (CIAS). Building on the foundations of our fore-runners both in terms of knowledge and resources, we are now an institution with 35 full-time faculty, and a community of around 150 researchers and supporting staff.
In our currently fluctuating world situation, one that abounds with instabilities and contingencies, there are, on the one hand, outstanding technological developments taking place. Yet, at the same time the earth is undergoing unprecedented environmental degradation, aging populations, infectious diseases, disasters, conflicts, poverty, inequality, discrimination and so on. In the face of such complex and urgent issues, we are pressed to move beyond disciplinary boundaries and towards a more integrated and holistic approach. We aim for a comparative understanding between Southeast Asia and other regions of the world, and further reflection upon our own conditions in and involvement from Japan. We hope that this will lead us to a more nuanced field-based understanding that will enable us to propose guidelines towards providing solutions.
CSEAS comprises researchers of varied disciplines and nationalities. The humanities and social sciences are the starting point of our endeavor, to learn and study the paths that our predecessors have trodden, and to learn how in the world today we can co-exist with others and with the environment. However, in considering these and emergent issues in the region, the knowledge and methodology of the natural sciences, including the medical sciences, ecological sciences, agronomy, forest sciences etc., is indispensable. What distinguishes and characterizes our Center is that since its founding some of our core members have been scientists whose ideas have resonated with researchers in the humanities and social sciences. Together, they have jointly developed new questions and perspectives in responding to imminent issues in the field.
Here in Kyoto, we welcome researchers from within and outside the country to come and make use of our resources and join us in various research projects. Receiving such stimulus at home, then, in the field, too, we meet people with multiple perspectives and positions. Situating ourselves in a large field such as Southeast Asia with all its diversity and observing, listening, and engaging in dialogue, we seek alternatives to existing paradigms of knowledge. It is becoming increasingly important to be aware of and collaborate with different perspectives in the field, including not only locals and local researchers but also civil society members, administrators, and companies etc.
We will continue to strengthen these ties across Japan and across the world, conducting research between Kyoto and the field, with awareness of where we stand temporally and spatially and seek paths towards a world of sustainable coexistence between the natural environment and human society.
To this end, we sincerely seek your further collaboration and cooperation.