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Collaborative research in Southeast Asia: towards a sustainable humanosphere

Over the past decade, Southeast Asia as a region has undergone economic integration, with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) serving as the hub of region-making at an institutional level. This integration has been accompanied by a reorganization of the region’s economy, spurring stronger demands for energy, food and water as well as significant socio-political change. This rapidly changing milieu poses challenges for researchers to keep track of the region at the country level while keeping a larger perspective in focus. As integration proceeds, rising demands and competition for resources have led researchers to investigate trans-boundary issues such as security, environmental degradation/transformation and socio-political change. The complexity of issues have stimulated collaborative research agendas to develop not just micro- and macro-level analyses of changes taking place in the region, but also questions relating to policy formation and recommendations for various stakeholders.

Such issues have compelled the forging of multidisciplinary alliances to produce ‘engaged’ approaches attuned to the fast-changing dynamics of Southeast Asia. These approaches have been in terms of the dynamic interplay between the environment, technologies, institutions and societies; the examination of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural domains; and the need to incorporate the tropics as a fundamental analytical point of departure to understand the development of human societies in the region. This special Focus of The Newsletter looks at how collaborative research in Southeast Asia is addressing the complex challenges of creating new common research languages in tune with the exigencies of the times.

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