house and grains in Thailand

2017 events

2017 events archive

The Southeast Asia Centre runs a series of events throughout the year. Read through our listings of past events for an indication of the centre's interests.

Events 2017

Ewa Wojkowska, co-founder and COO of the global social change-focused non-profit organisation, Kopernik, and Balinese rock band Navicula participated in a discussion on the transformational power of music and technology in addressing social and environmental issues in Indonesia. The discussion was followed by a live unplugged performance by two members of Navicula.

This event was co-sponsored by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the Australia-Indonesia Institute, Wot Cross-culture, Arimba Culture Exchange, the Department of Indonesian Studies University of Sydney, and the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association.

Book launch

Associate Professor David Reeve's newest publication, Angkot dan bus Minangkabau: Budaya pop & nilai-nilai budaya pop (Minangkabau angkot and buses: Pop culture & pop culture values) was launched by Professor Adrian Vickers at the University of Sydney followed by a Q and A with Ms Natali Pearson (PhD candidate, University of Sydney). Translated by Australia-based linguist and lecturer Iskandar P. Nugraha, this bilingual book (written concurrently in Indonesian and English) is the first of its kind to discuss the angkot as a cultural phenomenon and reveals the complexity and colour of Minangkabau culture.


Which way forward for Malaysia as the 14th General Elections loom, due in the next few months? Is Islamist politics the solution to fixing corrupt governance, or will this tear a fragile multi-religious nation apart? Is the intervention of the Sultans a sign of moral and political leadership failure, and is Malaysia’s democracy failing? What does Islamist politics offer the secular state? 

Speakers: Professor Kessler, Emeritus Professor, Sociology & Anthropology at UNSW and Professor Norani, recently retired as Senior Fellow and Professor of Sociology at IKMAS (Institute for Malaysian and International Studies) and founding member of Sisters in Islam (SIS).

Co-hosted with the Social Inclusion Network and the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre.

Globalisation has brought Koreans to work, study, play, live and retire in Malaysia and consequently, to put into operation “worlding” by displaying an openness to the world as well as “a deliberate situating of oneself on the border of different belongings so as to rebuild the world as more open-ended” (Goh 2015, 9). The instrumentalist downward mobility of the Korean middle classes by moving to a developing Southeast Asian nation presents an opportunity to investigate new types of possible worlding scenarios from the ground up. 

Associate Professor Gaik Cheng Khoo teaches film and cultural studies at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. 

Co-hosted with Centre for Asian and Pacific Law, and Sydney Ideas.

This forum examined the future of corruption eradication efforts in Indonesia, bringing together three speakers, Professor Todung Mulya Lubis, one of Indonesia’s leading lawyers and anti-corruption advocates; Dr Laode Syarif, Commissioner for Indonesia Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK); and Professor Simon Butt, who specialises in Indonesian law and its corruption courts.

Film screening: Co-hosted by SSEAC, the Comparative and International Education (CoInEd) Research Network and International Sponsorships.

The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC) a school which inspired a refugee education revolution. This is a real-life, real-time, multi-platform documentary about friendship, connection and the power of community.

The screening was followed by a Q and A with the film's director and producer, Jolyon Hoff, and Muzafar Ali, the subject of the film and founder of the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre.

Seminar: Co-hosted by SSEAC, the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre and the China Studies Centre.

The rise of numbers in Chinese foreign workers in Indonesia has created a new political front line in Indonesia. While high attention both by politicians and media have grown onto the issue, both severely criticized the government for not taking enough action and responsibility in preventing the adverse effect onto Indonesian economy and politics.In this talk, Associate Professor Nobuhiro Aizawa discussed the new style of governance and politics under the Jokowi presidency in dealing with this pressing issue of foreign workers from China which is in a way, a global phenomenon. 

Nobuhiro Aizawa is Associate Professor at Kyushu University’s Department of Social and Cultural Studies. He specialises in international relations, comparative politics and Southeast Asian politics.


This research workshop was made possible by a grant from the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA). The workshop provided scholars and postgraduates with an interest in Southeast Asia with an overview of the digital media landscape in the region, and provided them with the ethical, practical and technical skills required to conduct research within this dynamic space.


In this joint seminar, Leonard and Barbara Andaya discussed the ways in which they have responded to trends in historiography in the writing of A history of ‘early modern’ Southeast Asia (Cambridge, 2015) and in their third revised edition of A history of Malaysia (PalgraveMacmillan, 2016).

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas, the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the China Studies Centre, the Department of Anthropology, and the School of Architecture, Design and Planning.

For many years now, anthropologists and urban scholars alike have identified ‘gentrification’ as a process of class conflict in which poorer people get pushed to the margins of urban life in the name of ‘urban renewal.’ Professor Michael Herzfeld argued that gentrification is the tip of a much larger iceberg, called ‘development’ – a grandiloquent idea that is often coupled with socially and culturally destructive policies and that easily promotes insidious (because unstated) forms of social Darwinism (‘the survival of the fittest’) and paternalism.

Professor Michael Herzfeld is the Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University and Director of the Asia Center’s Thai Studies Program.

Book launch

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre hosted the Sydney launch of the ANU Indonesia Project's book, Digital Indonesia: connectivity and divergence (ISEAS Singapore 2017), edited by Dr Ross Tapsell from the ANU's College of Asia and the Pacific and Dr Edwin Jurriëns from the University of Melbourne.

The launch was followed by papers regarding the challenges and opportunities that the digital revolution in Indonesia presents, by Professor Gerard Goggin(Professor of Media and Communications Department, University of Sydney), Dr Ross Tapsell, and Mr Bede Moore (Co-founder of Lazada Indonesia).

Co-hosted with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Members of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representative (CPR) joined us in conversation with Professor Michele Ford from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre in a public seminar to discuss the topics that affect our region.

We brought together up-and-coming early career researchers (excluding postgraduate students) from around Australia, who are focused on Southeast Asia, to discuss a range of professional development topics, and network with peers from across the country.

Our invited experts provided current political updates on selected Southeast Asian states, providing individual country updates as well as space to discuss the broader implications of political issues beyond national borders. Drawing upon expertise from around the world, we discussed the latest political developments across Southeast Asia.

  • Professor Duncan McCargo (University of Leeds)
  • Professor Ardeth Maung Thawngh (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)
  • Dr Aries Arugay (University of the Philippines, Diliman)
  • Dr Maj Nygaard-Christensen (Aarhus University)
  • Dr Nicole Curato (University of Canberra)
  • Dr Patrick Jory (University of Queensland)
  • Dr Paul Schuler (University of Arizona)
  • Mr Thomas Power (Australian National University)

Applying for academic jobs can be a daunting process. This workshop helped higher degree research students think strategically about how to approach the job application process and what you can do to give yourself a competitive edge.

Co-hosted with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work's CoInEd Research Network.

Associate Professor Wee Tiong joined us to discuss the role of valuing and values education in the mathematics acheivment of students in some East and Southeast Asian countries.

Co-hosted with Sydney Ideas, the Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network and the Developmental Leadership Program.

Dr Duncan Green of Oxfam joined us to share the ideas in his latest book How Change Happens, exploring the topic of social and political change from the perspective of international development.  

Book discussion with Aihwa Ong

Co-hosted by the Biopolitics of Science Research Network

In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases. At biomedical centers in Singapore and China scientists map genetic variants, disease risks, and biomarkers, mobilizing ethnicized "Asian" bodies and health data for genomic research. Their differentiation between Chinese, Indian, and Malay DNA makes fungible Singapore's ethnic-stratified databases that come to "represent" majority populations in Asia. By deploying genomic science as a public good, researchers reconfigure the relationships between objects, peoples, and spaces, thus rendering "Asia" itself as a shifting entity. In Ong's analysis, Asia emerges as a richly layered mode of entanglements, where the population's genetic pasts, anxieties and hopes, shared genetic weaknesses, and embattled genetic futures intersect. Furthermore, her illustration of the contrasting methods and goals of the Biopolis biomedical centre in Singapore and BGI Genomics in China raises questions about the future direction of cosmopolitan science in Asia and beyond.

Aihwa Ong is Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

Co-hosted with the Department of Indonesian Studies

In 2008 Goenawan Moehamad celebrated the “very valuable paradox” (paradoks yang sangat berharga) of the language that has come over three generations to be known by almost all of Indonesia’s 250 million people. Drawing on sociolinguistic research, Professor Joe Errington of Yale University explored different versions of this paradox as it has developed in two towns, Kupang and Pontianak.


Most accounts of Myanmar’s rural economy paint a picture of stagnation, in a country characterised by chronic food insecurity, persistent poverty, and extremely low agricultural productivity. The seminar presented survey evidence from 2016, showing that a recent, rapid and profound transformation has begun in rural areas close to Myanmar’s main city, Yangon. These interlinked changes signal an extremely rapid deepening of market relations occurring in the areas surveyed. The immediate and longer run social implications of this multifaceted process require further exploration.

Dr Ben Belton holds the position of Assistant Professor in International Development at Michigan State University. He is based full-time in Myanmar in the USAID funded project 'Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy'.


The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre hosted a group of 26 women activists from Indonesia in January 2017 for a two-week short course aimed at improving participants' leadership, management and organisational skills. The networking event featured a short presentation by Dr Dyah Pitaloka from the Department of Indonesian Studies about her research on the leadership strategies used by rural women in Indonesia with Type 2 Diabetes.