Regional Social & Cultural Studies

Photos by (clockwise from top left): Norshahril Saat, Robertus Pudyanto (Getty Images via AFP), Anton Raharjo and Garry Lotulung (Anadolu Agency via AFP)

The RSCS programme examines the history, sociology and anthropology of national and transnational processes within Southeast Asia. RSCS is concerned with ethnographic practices in contemporary histories, nation-building, civil society and religion, cultural globalisation and identity-making, transnational movements, democratisation and multiculturalism, and contemporary politics in Southeast Asia. The programme adopts qualitative and quantitative methods and comparative approaches in its studies.

The programme publishes the internationally-refereed SOJOURN thrice a year. The journal is an interdisciplinary journal devoted to the study of social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia. Areas of special concern include ethnicity, religion, tourism, urbanisation, migration, popular culture, social and cultural change, and development.


Religion in Southeast Asia

The projects under this theme examine the impact of religious growth and revival on multicultural and multi-religious societies and their role in shaping politics and public debates. They analyse, among others, the role of religious elites, religious movements, religious education, and new modes of religious transmission. Currently, it is building its focus on Islamic trends in the region and expanding its interest in Christianity and Buddhism.

For more information, please contact the Coordinators, Dr Norshahril Saat and Dr Terence Chong.

China and Southeast Asian Society

This project seeks to monitor and understand the extent to which China’s political and cultural influence is impacting Southeast Asia, overseas Chinese and new Chinese migrants in the region. Some themes include the growth of Chinese popular culture, the impact of Chinese tourists on local economies, Chinese migrant workers in Southeast Asia, and the transformation of Chinese religions in mainland Southeast Asia.   

For more information, please contact the Coordinator, Professor Leo Suryadinata.

Youth and Civic Engagement

The project critically analyses the religious and political behaviour of youths in Southeast Asia. Covering several countries in the region, this project examines how youths articulate their interests and aspirations, negotiate religion, politics and emerging digital trends, and explores cross-state engagements and interactions. The project also hopes to survey the extent to which Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism shape the social, political and cultural lives of those between the ages 15 to 35.

For more information, please contact the Coordinators, Dr Iim Halimatusa’diyah and Dr Norshahril Saat.

Social Inequality and the Urban Poor in Southeast Asia

This project adopts a sociological and anthropological approach to better understand the social behaviour of the underclass in Southeast Asia’s urban centres. In the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, new forms of economic and social struggles have been observed among the urban poor. This project traces how they grapple with the social assistance provided by states, their jobs, housing needs, educational attainment, as well as access to healthcare services and other basic needs.

For more information, please contact the Coordinator, Dr Norshahril Saat


For matters relating to SOJOURN, please contact the Managing Editor, Professor Hui Yew-Foong.


Programme Coordinator

Dr Norshahril Saat

Current Researchers

Dr Terence Chong [DCE]

Professor Leo Suryadinata (Project Coordinator)

Dr Iim Halimatusa’diyah (Project Coordinator)

Professor Hui Yew-Foong (SOJOURN Managing Editor)

Dr Panarat Anamwathana

Dr Syaza Shukri

Dr Peter Chang Thiam Chai

Dr Kornphanat Tungkeunkunt

Dr Mara Yue Du

Dr Pradana Boy Zulian Thobibul

Dr Xue Song

Research Officers

Ms Afra Alatas

Ms Dorcas Gan

Ms Gwendolyn Yap

Mr Hasyir Hamid

Ms Nur Syafiqah Binte Mohd Taufek

Ms Rebecca Neo

Visiting Fellows [Between 2020 – 2023]

Dr A’an Suryana

Dr Andrew Ong

Dr Aranya Siriphon

Professor Chang-Yau Hoon

Dr Daungyewa Utarasint

Dr Mohd Faizal Musa

Dr Kevin S.Y Tan

Professor Kuah Khun Eng

Dr Ahmad Muhajir

Dr Oliver Tappe

Dr Sivarin Lertpusit

Dr Siti Mazidah Mohamad

Dr Vannarith Chheang

Current Associate Fellows

Dr Jason Lim

Dr Ross Tapsell

Dr Veronica L. Gregorio

Wang Gungwu Fellows [Between 2020 – 2023]

Dr Courtney T. Wittekind

Mr Jackie Wong Siu Hei