Can There be Southeast Asians in Southeast Asian Studies?

Ariel Heryanto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This essay addresses three thematic issues. First, some sort of area studies can be predicted to grow in scale and importance in most parts of Southeast Asia, although the name and boundary of this area of analysis may be different from that of the American-led Southeast Asian studies of the Cold-War period. Second, despite such possible development, the old Southeast Asian studies as it has matured on the other side of the globe will continue to have a bearing upon locally produced knowledge on the region. In profound ways, it will become an intellectual legacy, historical baggage, source of inspiration, institutional assistance, and partner to the more locally-based institutionalized areas studies. Third, the issue of past and present unequal relationships in the production and consumption of knowledge on this region will be debated more seriously than before, prompting discussions of related issues such as agency, positions of difference, and representation. One would hope that this tension brings results that are more constructive and innovative than earlier debates on the indigenization of the social sciences (before the 1970s), or on the “Asian values” (in the 1990s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-30
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian Studies
  • Cold War
  • Postcolonial

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