cSEARching for Southeast Asia graduate conference. April 2016.

Participants at the cSEARching for Southeast Asia graduate conference. April 2016.

“cSEARching for Southeast Asia”: Inaugural Graduate Student Conference for Southeast Asia Research at the University of British Columbia, April 14-15, 2016

[Check out our poster and program here.]

The UBC Southeast Asia Graduate Student Network held an interdisciplinary graduate student conference on Southeast Asia from April 14 to 15, 2016 at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. Held in collaboration with the UBC Centre for Southeast Asian Research (CSEAR) in the UBC Institute of Asian Research (IAR), the conference was the first of its kind at UBC. The conference provided an opportunity for participants to build networks and share perspectives, and experiences with other specialists and graduate students who study Southeast Asia.


Minutes before the keynote presentation. From Left to Right: Edgar Liao, Conference Program Director; Prof. Erik Kuhonta, keynote speaker; Prof. Kai Ostwald, CSEAR Director.

Participants enjoyed sustained discussion of the papers and projects they presented from an audience of fellow specialists in Southeast Asia, and attended a publishing workshop.

Professor Erik Martinez Kuhonta (Political Science, McGill University) was our keynote speaker.

Keynote Speech: “Is the Middle Class a Harbinger of Democracy? Evidence from Southeast Asia”

“A vast body of literature claims that the middle class is a critical force for democratic transitions, democratic consolidation, and political stability. Yet, recent events in Thailand and in other Southeast Asian newly-industrializing countries (NICs), indicate that the middle class often challenges democratic regimes or supports authoritarian juntas. How should we reconcile these divergent views of the middle class? This presentation argues that an explanation for the behavior of the middle class in relation to regime-type must begin by looking at the state’s role in addressing the interests of the middle class. Where a state addresses the key concerns of the middle class – rule of law, economic development, and political stability – this class is unlikely to rebel against the state. Institutionalized states are most likely to satisfy middle-class interests, while patrimonial or clientelistic states are particularly vulnerable to middle-class rebellion precisely because they are unable to satisfy middle-class interests and values. A comparison of three Southeast Asian NICs will thus show that middle-class support for democracy is highly contingent on the structural conditions in which they find themselves embedded.”

Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support: IAR, CSEAR, Liu Institute for Global Issues, St. John’s College, Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Vancouver, and Consulate General of Malaysia in Vancouver

The UBC Southeast Asia Graduate Student Network is a collective of UBC graduate students from different academic disciplines who are passionate about Southeast Asia. The network is based at the UBC Centre for Southeast Asia Research (CSEAR), and its activities including academic and social events are held in collaboration with the Institute of Asian Research (IAR). Contact us at csear.grad@gmail.com or join our facebook group.

Last day! Still smiling.

Last day! Still smiling.