Globalization and its Discontents in Southeast Asia

Authored by: Gerry van Klinken

Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian History

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415587259
eBook ISBN: 9780203763117
Adobe ISBN: 9781135018788


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Something was missing from the Asian Studies conference I attended in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2009: a panel on globalization. Instead, there was one on the impact of climate change in Southeast Asia, and one on the coming “East Asian community.” For the rest, as they had done for years, nations in their Southeast Asian setting claimed most of our attention – their democracies, security problems, agrarian changes, historical traumas, religions, and literatures. Neither of the other two international conferences I attended that year had a “globalization” panel either. The topic had disappeared off the Asian Studies agenda. One reason was surely that it had been so ideologically laden. The globo-babble had sounded to Southeast Asians like familiar imperialist justifications. Now the Western economic crisis that began with the popping American housing bubble in 2006 had wiped the sexy grin off globalization’s face. The Library of Congress catalog, meanwhile, shows that the number of book titles containing the word globalization peaked in that same year. As the dust settles, this is a good moment to take stock of the impact and meaning of globalization for Southeast Asia.

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