Event Highlights

Conference: Beyond the National: The Regional and Transnational Trajectories of Chinese Indonesians


ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute hosted the ‘Beyond the National: The Regional and Transnational Trajectories of Chinese Indonesians’ Conference at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute on 20-21 October 2016. The conference was co-convened by Dr Hui Yew-Foong, ISEAS Senior Fellow and Dr Charlotte Setijadi, ISEAS Visiting Fellow from the Indonesia Studies Programme.


Seminar on Political Art in Southeast Asia: The Role of LEKRA in Indonesia


This seminar looked at questions of Soviet and European influence on art, and the roles of social realism and socialism in delimiting the content of art and explored the legacy of LEKRA in the depiction of social issues in Indonesian art of the late twentieth- and early twenty-first centuries.


Lecture on Mystery City: Unearthing the 10th Century Angkorian Capital of Koh Ker


This 1.5-hour public lecture provided an overview of settlements and increasing complexity from the Neolithic through Iron ages which led to urbanization approximately 2000 years ago at Angkor Borei during the early Funan period.


Seminar on The “Democrat Muslim” Rashid Ghannouchi and His Influence on Malaysia’s Parti Amanah Negara


This 1.5-hour seminar discussed about Ghannouchi’s approach which does bring ‘Islamic’ legitimacy to Amanah’s involvement in non-Islamic, non-Muslim and secular alliances. This development may shape Muslim politics in Malaysia in ways that can overshadow the current race-based and religiously exclusive discourse now widely practised in the Malay community.


Conference on Imagining Asia(s): Networks, Actors, Sites


This 2-day conference explored Asian societies as interconnected formations through trajectories/networks of circulation of people, ideas, and objects in the longue durée.

Imagining Asia(s): Networks, Actors, Sites

Mr Tan Chin Tiong, ISEAS Director, delivering the opening remarks. Click here to view the speech. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)


Monday, 11 October 2016 – The Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre and Nalanda University (India) jointly organized the conference “Imagining Asia(s): Networks, Actors, Sites” at ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute on 10–11 October 2016.

Fourteen scholars from nine countries convened at ISEAS to explore Asian societies as interconnected formations through trajectories/networks of circulation of people, ideas, and objects in the longue durée. Moving beyond the divides of old Area Studies scholarship and the arbitrary borders set by late colonial empires and the rise of post-colonial nation states, this conference mapped critically the configuration of contact zones in which mobile bodies, minds, and cultures interact to foster new images, identities, and imaginations of Asia.

Nalanda University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Gopa Sabharwal also giving her welcoming address. Click here to view the speech. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The Keynote Speaker – Associate Professor Farish A Noor. Click here to view the keynote address. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

After the opening remarks by ISEAS Director, Mr Tan Chin Tiong and Nalanda University Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal, Prof. Farish Noor (NTU) delivered the keynote speech “Locating Asia, Arresting Asia: Grappling with ‘The Epistemology that Kills’”. The keynote successfully set the stage of the event, as it problematized today’s political boundaries drawn in the 19th century and appropriated by post-colonial states, and unpacked the issues of naming, identity, modernity, and postmodern global capitalism in the context of framing and imagining Asia(s).

Speakers for Panel I (Session 1): Conceptualizing the Region: Past & Present (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Panel I grouped three papers exploring past and present conceptualizations of the region, namely the idea of Asia set forth at the Asian Relations Conference of 1947 in Delhi, the geo-environmental metaphors of Monsoon Asia and Maritime Asia as alternative histories and geographies for the study of intra-Asian religious networks, and the idea of Asia in British Romantic poetics.

Associate Professor from Delhi University, Anjana Sharma, sharing her topic on British Romantic Poetics and the Idea of Asia with the audience  (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Dr Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz, Visiting Fellow, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, presenting her paper on Early Maritime Trade Networks: Transfer of Artefacts and Technology in the Indo-Pacific (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Dr Helene Njoto, Visiting Fellow, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, presenting her paper on Sultans and Foreign Master Builders: Javanese Participation in an Early Pan-Asian Trend for Masonry Architecture (Late 16th–Early 19th c.) (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Panel II was devoted to trans-local phenomena in the domain of material culture and architecture across Asia. The three panelists focused on early maritime trade networks across the Indo-Pacific area, Javanese participation in early pan-Asian trends for masonry architecture from the 16th to the early 19th century, and the transmission of architectural knowledge between South India and Sri Lanka.


Speakers for Panel III – Networks of Knowledge Across the Indian Ocean (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Tuesday, 12 October 2016 – The second day opened with a panel on knowledge production and transfer across the Indian Ocean, including a paper on Theosophical and Indic knowledge networks in India and Indonesia from 1900s to 1990s, and a paper on François Valentijn and the Dutch networks of knowledge transfer in the Bay of Bengal.

Speakers for Panel IV – Histories and Geographies of Pilgrimage (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

Panel IV focused on the histories, geographies, and politics of pilgrimage. The first panelist revisited the geographies, transmissions, and reconstitutions of Buddha relics in South and Southeast Asia, while the second panelist explored the reception of Hajj among South Asian Muslims in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Dr Federica Broilo, Adjunct Professor, University of Urbino, giving her perspective on Interconnectedness and Mobility in the Middle Ages/Nowadays: From Baghdad to Chang’an and from Istanbul to Tokyo (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Mr Vu Duc Liem, PhD candidate, Hamburg University & Hanoi National University of Education offering his insights on Connecting Networks and Orienting Space: Relocating Nguyen Cochinchina between East and Southeast Asia in the 16th – 18th Centuries (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

The last panel was devoted to trans-local dynamics and intra-Asian connections across space and time. The first paper described the construction of Sanskritic Buddhism across medieval Asia as a ‘principled Asian transnationalism’.  The second paper unveiled the interconnectedness and mobility of Islamic architecture from West to East Asia in the middle ages and nowadays. The final paper problematized the construct of Nguyen Cochinchina and relocated it between East and Southeast Asia in the 16th –18th centuries.

Dr Andrea Acri, Visiting Associate Professor, Nalanda University & Associate Fellow, Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, ISEAS, chairing the final roundtable (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 

The conference was closed by a short roundtable, in which the conveners discussed the issues of (trans)locality, mobility, and imagination in Asian contexts.

Close to 70 participants attended the 2-day conference. 

Participants at the conference (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) 


Seminar on China’s Strategy and Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pacific Region


This 1.5-hour morning seminar discussed the significant shifts in power balances in the Indo-Pacific region, partly fueled by the comprehensive rise of China, “rebalance” strategy of the United States, Japan’s re-rise, India’s Act East policy, revival of territorial disputes and contest over maritime, cyber and space commons.


Seminar on Japanese Artists and Art Policy in Japanese-occupied Indonesia and Singapore, 1942-1945


This 1.5-hour afternoon seminar showed how understanding the art historical context in Asia preceding the war was crucial to measure the impact of the Japanese artistic campaigns in Southeast Asia. The speaker, Mr Antariksa demonstrated how strong debates had split the Japanese art world since the late 19th century between advocates of traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and materials (Nihonga) and supporters of modern art inspired by the West (Yōga).


Seminar on Previewing the 2017 Jakarta Election: Candidates, Coalitions and Prospects for the Campaign


This 1.5-hour seminar provided a preview of the 2017 Jakarta election. In addition, the seminar also contextualized the election in broader political trends in Indonesia and analysed the significance of the impending campaign for future elections in Indonesia. 


7th Annual OPUS Lecture Series with Syracuse University


Over 40 students from Syracuse University attended a 2-day Outreach Programme for University Students (OPUS) Lecture Series, now in its 7th run, at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute on 22 August 2016. 


Seminar on China’s Asia Strategy: Opportunities and Challenges


This 1.5-hour seminar discussed there is an imperative for prudence which should be met by China’s future efforts in the One Belt One Road and similar “strategic economic”’ projects, as demonstrated by the practices of the “strategic military” approach, so as to prevent strategic overreach.