Workshop on National Imaginations in Southeast Asian Art

About the Workshop

The role of art in nation-building is not new. From French history paintings that glorified Napoleon’s reign to Soviet Socialist Realism, art has not only been yoked to the political objectives of the elite but also served as a narrator of nationhood. In this context, art has been deployed as sophisticated means to express political values and ideals seeking to capture the spirit and mentalities of successive periods.

Southeast Asian nations emerged from a whirlwind of ideologies such as anti-colonialism, communism, and socialism, with the Cold War as backdrop. These postcolonial nations have produced iconic art works and discourses that have captured the aspirations and struggles of the day. Indeed the political transitions and shifting ideologies experienced by many societies in the region progressively changed the way modern art was produced and perceived in terms of styles, subject matter, iconography, idioms and genres.

This workshop seeks to critically evaluate the ways in which Southeast Asian nations are imagined by artists and other cultural agents such as art critics, gallerists, collectors, independent curators or museums, and the state. It comes at a time when ‘national art’ is being redefined while more public and private institutions in the region are erected to re-imagine the narratives of nationhood. Whether through modern or contemporary art which interrogates the consequences of global capitalism, scholars are invited to explore how art is deployed either as a coalescing force for the imagination of the nation or a critical expression of its flaws and strains.

Keynote speaker:  Professor Patrick D Flores

Workshop programme: Tentative programme here.

Registration: Attendance to the Workshop is free of charge but registration is required by Thursday, 12 January 2017. To register, please complete this form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email it to As seats are limited, please register early. Admission to the Workshop can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS. For any queries, please feel free to email: <>.

Best wishes,

Dr Terence Chong & Dr Hélène Njoto

Conference Co-conveners

20 December 2016



Jan 20 2017


8:30 am - 5:10 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 1 & 2