Beyond national borders – Citizenship and belonging in Southeast Asia in the 21st Century

Panel organised by: Mirjam Le (University of Passau) & Mandy Fox (University of Passau)


Panel topic

Identity and Citizenship beyond borders in Southeast Asia

Panel description

In recent years, Southeast Asia, tensions between democratization and authoritarianism, social conflicts and nationalism, and thus questions of identity and belonging moved beyond the national framework. However, often academic research is still confined to national borders. Thus, we aim to start an academic discourse beyond the singular nations to understand questions of identity, belonging and citizenship in a broader regional frame.

In recent years, a growing crisis of legitimation in many Southeast Asian Countries is countered by increasing authoritarian governments and state repression. At the same time, the role of elites and their relationship with the heterogeneous middle classes puts processes of democratization into question. Ideas of citizenship become fields of intensive tension surrounding identity and belonging. This process is reinforced by the marginalization and exclusion of ethnic and social groups and an increasing inequality, which puts pressure on the social order. Within these dynamics, the media plays a double role as medium of expression but also of propaganda. Consequently, a diverse set of fields of conflicts emerges in which environmental protection, local and national identity, corruption and land rights are hot topics and used as tools of social mobilization. Social media further provides new means of engagement, mobilization but also political persecution. Furthermore, transnational networks of refugees, activists and workers further blur our understanding of identity, citizenship and nation.

In this conflicted political and social landscape, a new nationalism, often coupled with ethnic and religious ideologies emerges to promise solutions to a wide range of problems. At the same time, transnational movements and mobilities of ideas, people and goods – part of the globalized world – transcend simple national solutions to questions of identity of identity, citizenship and belong.

Therefore, as national borders become increasingly blurred and frontier spaces emerge, it becomes a necessity as researcher to move beyond old national boundaries and categories. The aim of this panel is thus to develop new frameworks of understanding for Southeast Asia as civil unrest, environmental problems and national security demand a cross-border approach.

Possible topics:

  • What local, regional, and global identities emerge in Southeast Asia? What role do these identities play in everyday life?
  • How is political marginalization and exclusion related to questions of identity and belonging beyond the existing nation states?
  • How can nationalism, environmental problems and ethnic conflicts be analysed from a cross-national perspective?
  • What is the role of media and urbanization as means to propagate new categories of belonging and identity?

The panel will be chaired by Mandy Fox, Mirjam Le will take the role of discussant.

Paper proposal

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