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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).For futher information please visit the

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Publication series: Southeast Asian Modernities

Published by LIT-Verlag

Editors: Christoph Antweiler, Claudia Derichs, Rüdiger Korff, Frauke Kraas, Boike Rehbein, Jürgen Rüland, Judith Schlehe, Susanne Schröter, Hermann Schwengel

Southeast Asia is one of the most interesting and important regions of the world. Around 570 million inhabitants, a great natural, ethnic, cultural, and political diversity and rapid economic growth characterize contemporary Southeast Asia. The book series collects works by scholars studying the field in order to shed light on the various modernities emerging in the region. The peer-reviewed volumes cover aspects of the enormous variety of Southeast Asian reality with a strong focus on topics of contemporary relevance. Many of the publications are by German scholars and are written in German, others are in English, but all of them are important contributions to Southeast Asian studies.

Südostasien zählt mit gut 570 Mio. Einwohnern, enormer naturräumlicher, ethnisch-kultureller und politischer Vielfalt sowie rasantem Wirtschaftswachstum zu den besonders interessanten und weltpolitisch relevanten Großregionen. Dennoch ist Südostasien im deutschen Sprachraum wenig präsent. Besonders spärlich sind wissenschaftliche Buchveröffentlichungen. Die Buchreihe „Southeast Asian Modernities“ sucht dem entgegen zu wirken. Sie wird von führenden deutschen Südostasien-WissenschaftlerInnen herausgegeben und veröffentlicht doppelt begutachtete Arbeiten mit einem breiten Themenspektrum und zugleich besonderem Aktualitätsbezug. Der Schwerpunkt liegt auf den unterschiedlichen Modernitäten, die in der Region entstehen. Viele der Publikationen sind wegweisend im deutschen Sprachraum, andere sind in englischer Sprache abgefasst.

Boike Rehbein, Jürgen Rüland, Judith Schlehe (Hg.): Identitätspolitik und Interkulturalität in Asien

Ein multidisziplinäres Mosaik Bd. 1,
2006, 272 S., ISBN 3-8258-9033-3

Globalisierung scheint zugleich ein Zusammenwachsen der Welt und eine aktive wie passive Differenzierung zu bedeuten. Neben Interkulturalität treten Versuche ihrer Kontrolle und der Abgrenzung. Beide Tendenzen haben in Asien eine lange Geschichte. VertreterInnen unterschiedlicher Disziplinen beleuchten das Thema aus der Perspektive ihres Faches und stellen es in einen historischen Zusammenhang. Die Beiträge beruhen auf einer Ringvorlesung des Asienschwerpunkts der Universität Freiburg. Wie die Vorlesung selbst wenden sie sich nicht nur an die Fachwelt, sondern auch an die interessierte Öffentlichkeit. Sie sind leicht lesbar und allgemein verständlich, vermitteln aber zugleich den aktuellen Stand der Forschung.

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Dominique Schirmer, Gernot Saalmann, Christl Kessler (Eds.): Hybridising East and West. Tales beyond Westernisation.

Empirical Contributions to the Debates on Hybridity. Bd. 2, 2006, 344 S., ISBN 3-8258-0155-1

Up to now, debates on hybridisation are rather theoretical. The authors of the volume take an empirical look at both everyday cultures and lifestyles, religion, medicine and scientific cultures and the directions of influences. The findings suggest that hybridity and hybridising have to be conceptualised as processes of mixture relevant for constructing identities, being increasingly positively denoted and displaying the multidirectionality and multidimensionality of hybridising processes. In our globalised world such a mixture is very frequent, highly present and rather inescapable.

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Aurel Croissant, Beate Martin (Eds.) : Between Consolidation and Crisis

Elections and Democracy in Five Nations in Southeast Asia Bd. 3, 2006, 392 S., ISBN 3-8258-8859-2

Between Consolidation and Crisis focuses on five countries in Southeast Asia to examine how their elections have been conducted in the past two years, their domestic implications, and how the elections have differed from one another and from elections in other parts of Asia. Case studies on Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand provide an overall understanding of the impact of elections on the consolidation or crisis of new democratic and semi-democratic polities in the region of Southeast Asia.

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Aurel Croissant, Beate Martin, Sascha Kneip (Eds.): The Politics of Death

Political Violence in Southeast Asia Bd. 4, 2006, 384 S., br., ISBN 3-8258-8860-6

This volume analyzes four aspects of political violence in Southeast Asia: elections and violence; intra-ethnic conflict; communist insurgency; terrorism and religious extremism and lethal crime and politics. Together, the ten case studies on Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand challenge the idea that democratic governance will bring an end to internal violent conflict. As some examples in the region suggest, semi-democratic polities in Southeast Asia even may be more successful in reducing levels of internal violence, compared to new democracies in their neighbourhood and other types of political regime they have tried in the past.

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Maren Tomforde : The Hmong Mountains

Cultural Spatiality of the Hmong in Northern Thailand Bd. 5, 2006, 504 S., ISBN 3-8258-9313-8

The concept of cultural spatiality includes all aspects of human agency, experiences and outside influences. As such, it encompasses socio-culturally enacted localities, whether these are real, imagined or only potential spheres of social, economic, religious, symbolic, or political action. As in the case of the Hmong in northern Thailand, people can be anchored via processes of place making in local settlements, in a diaspora spread over five continents or in the "Otherworld" of the supernatural agents. The concept of the Hmong Mountains signifies the "place" the Hmong people have constituted to maintain their socio-cultural distinctiveness despite statelessness. It is a mental model of the Hmong lifeworld which has evolved during the course of a long history of migration, dispersal and settlement in Thailand.

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Timo Menniken: Konflikt und Kooperation am Mekong

Internationale Politik an grenzüberschreitenden Wasserläufen Bd. 6, 2006, 200 S., ISBN 3-8258-9727-3

Die erstmals in den 1970er Jahren prognostizierte globale Wasserkrise bricht sich seit einiger Zeit in regionaler Verknappung Bahn. Der Topos des Wasserkrieges beherrscht öffentliche Debatte und wissenschaftlichen Diskurs. Dieses Szenario ist vermeidbar, wenn politische Regulierungsmechanismen etabliert werden, die eine sinnvollere und gerechtere Verteilung der verfügbaren Wasserressourcen organisieren. Am Beispiel des Mekongbeckens will die vorliegende Studie zeigen, wie regionale Flussgebietsübereinkommen jene Lücke füllen können, die die unzureichende globale Regulierung hinterlässt.

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Frauke Kraas, Hartmut Gaese, Mi Mi Kyi (Eds.) :
Megacity Yangon

Transformation Processes and Modern Developments Bd. 7, 2006, 350 S., ISBN 3-8258-0042-3

Megacities are new urban phenomena, results of globalisation and subject to as well as motors of global ecological, socio-economic, and political change. New are the dimensions of growth, concentrations of population, infrastructure, economic power and decisions - and the simultaneous, self-energising acceleration processes of development. But one must be wary of generalised statements since differences of economic performance, social coherence, infrastructure conditions and governance structures should not be ignored: The publication aims at analysing current transformation processes of Yangon/Myanmar, as spearhead of national development, bridge to Southeast Asia and the world.

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Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Andrea Fleschenberg (Eds.): Goddesses, Heroes, Sacrifices

Female Political Power in Asia Bd. 8, 2008, 286 S., ISBN 978-3-8258-0540-1

Women at the head of states and governments have become a regular phenomenon in South and Southeast Asia in the last decades, even though patriarchal structures have endured. A dynastic principle is seen to be at work where women are frequently preferred over available male successors. The publication discusses the relationship of the state and secularism, the significance of religion in society, the concept of the goddess, the perception and interpretation of martyrdom and sacrifice, and the question of moral capital as background for the emergence of women political leaders and their career paths.

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Judith Schlehe, Boike Rehbein (Hg.): Religion und die Modernität von Traditionen in Asien

Neukonfigurationen von Götter-, Geister- und Menschenwelten Bd. 9, 2008, 262 S., ISBN 978-3-8258-0656-9

Zum Verständnis der Welt sind Einsichten in die Wirkmächtigkeit und Dynamik religiöser Weltdeutungen unverzichtbar. Die diversen asiatischen Religionen verbinden sich auf vielfältige Weisen mit veränderten Lebensumständen, wobei Modernisierungs- und Traditionalisierungsprozesse gleichermaßen wichtige Rollen spielen. Die Beiträge des Bandes betrachten diese Prozesse aus der Sicht verschiedener Disziplinen. Dabei geht es nicht nur um die institutionalisierten Weltreligionen, sondern auch um lokale Weltbilder und indigene Glaubenssysteme ebenso wie um neue religiöse und charismatische Bewegungen in Asien.

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Günter Burkard, Michael Fremerey (Hg.): A Matter of Mutual Survival

Social Organization of Forest Management in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia Bd. 10, 2008, 464 S., ISBN 978-3-8258-1468-7

This volume contains a collection of articles based on empirical social science research in forest margin communities around the Lore Lindu National Park in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. It refers to a worldwide and particularly topical issue, i.e. the declining forest resources and man's role in the observed processes of nature degradation. However, it refrains from rather simplistic protectionist approaches which boil down to a separation between man and nature in order to avoid the depletion of natural resources. Instead, the approach adopted regards the existence or development of co-evolutionary potentials, both in nature and human society, as a precondition for the establishment of a sustainable equilibrium in the interaction between man and nature.

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