|Contact||:||Center for Southeas Asia Social Studies (CESASS) Gadjah Mada University Gedung PAU, Lt. 1, Sayap Timur Jl. Teknika Utara, Barek, Yogyakarta Telpon/Fax : 0274 589658|
|Event||:||Wednesday,23 October 2013 - Thursday,24 October 2013|
A regional community in international relations is established ‘when a shared sense of belonging to a community or ‘we-ness’ is developed throughout the region’. In order to create a regional community which posesses a common identity, this group should hold a common value, adhered norm, mutual trust, greater degree of transaction flow, shared interest, and shared belief to common destiny. It is also advantageous for them to begin from common historical background and culture and equipped with formal/informal institution to oversee the society.
Southeast Asia is a region characterized with diversity rather than homogeneity. Emerged only during World War II as America created Southeast Asia Command in the war against Japan, “Southeast Asia” has never been a unified one. The region was diverse in cultural background as it is a home of hundred of ethnic-linguistic groups which speak different languages and adhere different religions. It did not only lack multilateral interaction in early period but was also dominated by historical antagonism among states which still exists until today. Different political systems and economic inequalities in the post colonial period have a propensity to split rather than to unite the region. Current regional tendency to preserve national sovereignty and American security relations based on bilateral pattern of relations constitute serious impediments for the countries to become a community
Despite of these divergences, the ten Southeast Asian countries through their regional organization, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) aims to establish an ASEAN Community by 2015. This goal is set in ASEAN Charter 2007. Within the framework of ASEAN Community, the ten member states of ASEAN are aspiring to be ‘politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible in order to effectively respond to some current and future challenges and opportunities’. This integration project has undoubtedly a serious implication. ASEAN Community is believed to integrate the region in terms of those three areas. Consequently, the region and its actors should have shared visions and willingness to cooperate in order to make the system works and sustainable. The shared vision is not only necessary to makes the policy more acceptable in the society, but also to create we-feeling which is the driving force to be a community. Given the above problems of Southeast Asia, building this shared vision can be a serious challenge for ASEAN in the years to come.
The conference on ‘Constructing Southeast Asia’ aims at addressing comprehensively the problems of community building in Southeast Asia. In concrete, first, it aims at looking at Southeast Asian history from pre- to post-colonial periods as the background relevant for the contemporary construction of Southeast Asia. Second, it aims at contesting different perspectives in constructing Southeast Asia and at examining the possible compatibility and incompatibility, not to mention contradiction, for the development of the we-feeling or sense of community in Southeast Asia. Third, it aims at looking at the prospect and challenges both from within and from outside of the community itself in the community building of Southeast Asian.