By Pham Duc Thanh
It is a multi and interdisciplinary Institute including many branches: archaeology;
ethnology; geography; history; culture; economy; politics to name a few. Its main task is
to conduct scientific research on various fields of Southeast Asian countries: history;
culture; politics; economy and so forth, in order to develop the study on Southeast Asia
in Vietnam, thus providing a scientific basis for policy makers and for the social
sciences development strategy of the state, as well as producing materials for teaching
the above-mentioned subjects. It helps the National Centre for Social Sciences and
Humanities of Vietnam to manage and co-ordinate research work on Southeast Asia all over
Considering that Southeast Asia Studies should cover the whole of Southeast Asia viewed from both its diachronic and synchronic relationships, the study focuses on two main aspects:
1. Southeast Asia as a historico-cultural area, an entity emerging from a concrete historical context and set of circumstances. It shares common geographical conditions, common cultural origins, common value systems, and the same historical status. These are the main objectives in the research of the Humanities. 2. Southeast Asia is just as importantly a contemporary strategic area in many respects: military; political; economic to mention perhaps the three most important. It includes 10 independent countries: Vietnam; Laos; Cambodia; Myanmar; Thailand; Indonesia; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; and Brunei. Though Southeast Asian countries have different socio-political systems and development levels, they nonetheless have common interests in the development of a spirit of national independence and in building up regional inter-relations towards forming the ASEAN bloc, thereby contributing to the maintenance of reciprocal relations with the rest of the world.
In efforts to determine the initial orientations that Southeast Asian studies should take, the ISEAS in collaboration with scientists in other branches, has tentatively put forward five topics in chronological order.
1. Once there was an ancient Southeast Asian civilization distinct from that of either
China or India. This civilization was founded on wet rice cultivation of indigenous origin
and embodied cultural-ethnic characteristics which encouraged the capacity of the local
people to tame nature and engage in social struggle.
2. The formation of nations states in Southeast Asia and the appearance of traditional cultures enriched their multi-lateral contact with other Asian cultures, especially those of China and India.
3. The ways of development from traditional to modern society adopted in the Southeast Asian region.
4. Relations between Vietnam and Southeast-Asian countries throughout the course of history.
5. Integration in the Southeast Asian region: prospects and challenges.
The following research programmes are being pursued at present:
Studies of ethnic groups and religions in Southeast Asia;
Studies of cultural contacts between the East and the West;
Studies of the environment and the social patterns of Southeast Asian peoples;
Studies of ASEAN countries:
- toward a greater ASEAN (ten countries)
- co-operation between ASEAN countries
- security and development in ASEAN
- role and position of the big powers in Southeast Asia
- relationship between Vietnam and Southeast Asian countries
The organizational structure of ISEAS
At present the Institute has sixty-three researchers (including 30 professors, associate professors and doctors) in the following eight centres:
Centre for Historical and Cultural Studies: the pre-history and culture of Southeast Asia;
Centre for ASEAN Studies: main topics concern ASEAN, especially Vietnam's role and position in ASEAN
Centre for Laos Studies: history, culture, and the path towards the development of a modern society in Laos. Relationship between Vietnam and Laos.
Centre for Cambodia Studies: history, culture, and the path towards the development of a modern society in Cambodia. Relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Centre for Thailand and Myanmar Studies: history, culture, the path towards the development of a modern society in Thailand and Myanmar, especially Thailand's experiences with socio-economic development. Relationship between Vietnam and these two countries.
Centre for Insular Countries Studies: experiences of these countries in socio- economic and cultural development. Relations between Vietnam and the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Centre for Indian Studies: history and culture of India. India's role and position in the Southeast Asian region.
Centre for Australian Studies: history and culture of Australia. Australia's role and position in Southeast Asian region.
The Centre publishes textbooks forming a comprehensive course on Southeast Asia for universities including archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, linguistics, literature, geography, economics for each country, including language courses. The Centre also publishes books introducing the culture, history, and socio-economies of each country to the broad masses of the Vietnamese people.
Furthermore, it publishes monographs on various topics including MA and PhD theses as well as documentary and reference books (information, documents, archives, annuals, bibliographies), especially dictionaries: Thailand-Viet; Indonesian-Viet; Khmer-Viet; Lao- Viet.
The Review Southeast Asian Studies is the Southeast Asia Institutes' own
publication. The aims of the Review are to publish academic articles on Southeast Asia as
well as information, data, figures, and basic knowledge on Southeast Asia, not forgetting
data of scientific value culled from current research on Southeast Asia.
The Magazine Vietnam and Southeast Asia Today is another organ directly under the auspices of the Southeast Asia Institute. It publishes research results on politics , socio-economies, and the culture of Southeast Asia.
To answer the requirements of a multi and interdisciplinary study, the scope of the library acquisition is not only worldwide but also regional. In 1995, the Library consisted of 40,000 books and documents, about 100 titles of periodicals in Vietnamese, English, Russian, French, Chinese, Japanese and all the main Southeast Asian languages. The main function of the library is to provide academic materials and information for the Institute's researchers, officials, and foreign experts.
International cooperation is one of the most fruitful activities of the library. It has formal relationships with libraries in other ASEAN countries, the United States Library of Congress, and university libraries in America and some libraries of universities in France, Australia, and Japan.
Dr Pham Duc Thanh, director
Dr Nguyen Thu My, deputy director
Dr Ngo Van Doanh, editor-in-chief "Southeast Asian Studies"
Prof. Pham Duc Duong, editor-in-chief "Vietnam & Southeast Asia Today"
Institute for Southeast Asian Studies
27 Tran Xuan Soan st.
Tel: +84-4-261629 / 267817
Fax: +84-4-245966 / 259071