Southeast Asia is rich in its diversity of ethnic, religious and cultural composition. The region has maintained the coexistence of such diversity while at the same time achieving economic progress and becoming a hub for the flow of people, goods, money and information. Yet at present, the region is also confronted with serious issues such as the decrease of biodiversity and tropical forests, disasters, pandemics, aging population, ethnic and religious conflicts, economic differentiation and poverty.
In the face of this, how is coexistence and sustainability possible despite the diversity that exists? How can we make public resources out of the region’s social foundations which are the basis of people’s everyday lives? And, how can we connect these in a complementary way to existing systems of governance towards solving the problems and issues mentioned above?
In order to address these questions in the context of Southeast Asian context, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies will initiate a three year project that explicitly examines the contours of their everyday lives through a visual approach. The documentary is one of the most potent forms of media to capture the everyday nuances of social life. This project aims to use visual forms of expression to complement the growing literature that exists on Southeast Asian societies. The above framework will offer three separate but interrelated themes that deal with “plural co-existence” in the region.
Plural co-existence captures all of the potential diversity that can exist within and across different societies. Simultaneously it highlights all the dangers that are inherent in the economic, political and social systems that people share.
For the first year, we aim to focus on the topic of “care” in Southeast Asia. For the second and the third years, we aim to switch to other themes that reflect contemporary issues in the region. These will include “mobility and negotiation” and the “political cultures of resources management.”