For over 50 years, CSEAS has dedicated itself to cutting edge research on contemporary issues facing Southeast Asia through interdisciplinary research based on fieldwork. Over this time, the Center has undergone a gradual evolution, identifying developments in Southeast Asian societies through ongoing empirically grounded research. To date CSEAS’ main focus has predominately been on Southeast Asia. Our researchers span the disciplinary divide and have explored social, cultural and eco-agricultural diversity in one of the world’s most diverse regions. This has allowed CSEAS to learn about its latent potential, its cultures, diverse peoples, religious dynamism, and plural co-existence. And in line with the exigencies of a rapidly evolving and dynamically globalizing region, researchers have been collaborating closely with other institutions within the region and around the world to accumulate new knowledge. This has allowed for theory-building and the promotion of perspectives that are attuned to the region’s diversity.
In order to further its mandate, CSEAS has undergone a reorganization and renewed its mission integrating with the Center for Integrated Area Studies (CIAS). This is significant in that it will allow CSEAS to refine knowledge from a truly comparative inter-regional perspective. Whereas to date we have focused on looking at the region, this reorganization will allow us to look through and from the region and compare with other world regions. This, of course, will be quite a challenge. However, with this reorganization comes expansion. CSEAS will be able to combine and share the expertise of colleagues who work in Latin America, Central Asia and Northeast Asia. CSEAS welcomes Professors Hara Shoichiro, Wil de Jong, Hayashi Yukio, Kishi Toshihiko, Associate Professors Murakami Yusuke, Nishi Yoshimi, Obiya Chika, Yamamoto Hiroyuki, Yanagisawa Masayuki, and Assistant Professors Kameda Akihiro and Nakayama Taisho. Through this expansion we hope to strengthen and deepen collaboration among our researchers to create a robust academic community: those that can adapt and respond to the challenges that face society globally but who can work locally.
In this issue, we are pleased to carry a range of articles from current fellows and invited writers. On November 3, 2016, CSEAS was graced with a special guest. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (State Councilor), in recognition of her advancement of democracy in Myanmar was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kyoto University and traveled to CSEAS to receive it. We offer her acceptance speech that she gave to a packed audience. Ken MacLean writes about the humanitarian efforts that are underway to clear landmines in Myanmar and the urgent need to establish landmine-free areas for displaced persons who want to rebuild their lives in former conflict areas. In our ongoing desire to have a dialogue on gender issues in Southeast Asia, Sunitha Bisan, Chairperson, Environment and Climate Change, National Council of Women’s Organisations, was invited to write about climate change and its impact on the lives of women in Sarawak. Vernon Totanes a historian and visiting fellow details the history of publishing, book destruction and survival that occurred during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Mario Lopez reports on the 5th Visual Documentary Project that was successfully held in December 2016. Finally, Lindsey Merrison, founder of the Yangon Film School (YFS), an innovative and rising film school based in Yangon, offers an overview of the challenges the school has faced during this current period of democratic transition in Myanmar.