50th Anniversary Public Lecture: “Before Southeast Asia: Passages and Terrains” by Prof Wang Gungwu


This is the last of a series of public lectures to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. 

Lecture Synopsis

In the over 50 years since its establishment, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been criticised for not doing enough as an institution, as well as praised for its accomplishments in the face of daunting challenges. Ironically, both critics and supporters of ASEAN have based their judgments on the region’s extraordinary diversity and deep differences. And yet, hundreds of scholars have sought to demonstrate how similar various parts of Southeast Asia are to each other. Diverse, deeply different, and similar – Southeast Asia is indeed a regional paradox.

ISEAS’s 50th anniversary is a good occasion to take stock. This lecture will look back to a time when the concept of a Southeast Asian region had not yet arrived and review what we know. It will ask several questions such as; what were the ingredients that might have brought the terrains closer together? Were there chances that were missed? What key factors led to regular fragmentations? Why was the idea of Southeast Asia as a region attractive?

About the Speaker

Professor Wang Gungwu is Chairman of ISEAS Board of Trustees.  He is University Professor at the National University of Singapore and Emeritus Professor of Australia National University; a historian of China and Southeast Asia and an authority on the Chinese diaspora. He held several academic positions including Chairman of East Asian Institute from 2007-18, Chairman of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from 2005-17, Director of East Asian Institute from 1997-2007, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong from 1986-95, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities from 1980 to 1988 and Professor Far Eastern History at the Australian National University (1968-86).

Professor Wang received his B.A. General (1952), B.A. Honours (1953) and M.A. (1955) from the University of Malaya in Singapore, and his Ph.D. at the University of London (1957).


For registration, please fill in this form and email to iseasevents3@iseas.edu.sg by 2 October 2018.


Oct 03 2018


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Orchard Hotel Grand Ballroom 1 & 2