Transnational (ecological) knowledge mobilities and -carriers in Southeast Asia

Panel organizers

Patrick Keilbart (University of Passau)
Friederike Trotier (University of Passau)

Chair & discussants




Panel abstract

Mobilities are central to contemporary society, from the everyday journeys of people, objects and ideas to the global movements of migrants, information and capital. In the debate around the definition of Southeast Asia, mobility features high as a meaningful uniting signifier to describe its characteristic. With historical prominence of trade well before the colonial encounters, the boarders of the Southeast Asian territories have been porous for people as well as ideas and knowledge.

In contemporary Southeast Asia, institutional and cultural environments emerge to create, use and transfer knowledge, while at the same time being shaped by the internalization of knowledge and organizational practices. The transfer is also subject to certain contextual conditions that are revealing in the field of transnational relations within and beyond Southeast Asia, since these include postcolonial asymmetries of interests, power and sovereign interpretations. In these processes of information and knowledge diffusion, transnational knowledge carriers – actors, who mediate between different social systems and functions – play a central role.

The creativity and boundary-crossing potential of interdisciplinary fields often sits in tension with disciplines, which define and regulate appropriate concepts and knowledge. As the field of mobilities research has been able to connect different epistemological frames, this panel examines the potential of integrating disciplinary approaches by engaging with a larger conceptualization of mobilities in information and ideas with a special focus on Southeast Asia.

Our panel aims to explore transnational knowledge mobilities and –carriers in Southeast Asia, in particular related but not limited to ecological knowledge and practices. The rapid economic development in Southeast Asian countries has brought welfare gains for some, but has often been accompanied by diametrical effects as it relied on the problematic exploitation of natural resources and the closely-lined impact on the environment and people depending on it. Behind the tremendous economic and environmental outcomes of palm oil cultivation and emerging industries like waste-imports in Southeast Asia, social-ecological and basically political conflicts linger.

Contributions on a conceptual basis and with a comparative approach as well as case studies from different Southeast Asian countries are most welcomed. We invite contributions on the following (or related) questions:

• How can we theorize and conceptualize knowledge mobilities, potentially expanding epistemological frames and disciplinary approaches?

• Who are transnational knowledge carriers and what are their strategies or approaches to spread (ecological) knowledge expansively?

• What are dominant ideas about natural environments or other phenomena of knowledge production that potentially transcend national borders?


Abstract will follow soon.