CFP: Doing Theory in Southeast Asia

Elmo Gonzaga's picture

Doing Theory in Southeast Asia

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Division of Cultural Studies, 20-21 May 2021 (Online)

The goal of this virtual workshop is to map theoretical frameworks and keywords from the diverse, archipelagic cultures of greater Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Timor Leste. It builds on recent initiatives around the world to decolonize the scope and vocabulary of theory away from dominant sites of knowledge production in North America, Western Europe, Australia, and Northeast Asia by turning to other locations as frames of reference for inquiry, speculation, and analysis. The workshop aims to uncover the different methods, objects, conditions, and terminologies for critical knowledge production that use Southeast Asia as a discursive and symbolic lens.

Papers should address one or more of the following questions: 

  1. How might keywords act as focal points for comprehending translocal or intraregional particularity or difference?

  2. How might literature, cinema, art, and anthropology offer sources for vernacular concepts and images?

  3. How are theories developed ‘abroad’ or ‘elsewhere’ “creolized” through their appropriation and reinvention in new contexts?

  4. How might understandings of hybridity, syncretism, and nomadism be drawn from local traditions, religions, and politics?

  5. How might the idea of Southeast Asia theory respond to issues of generalisability and universalism?

  6. What is the value of the ‘premodern’ in formulating Southeast Asian theories?

  7. How might Critical Race Theory be informed by Southeast Asia’s multiethnic, multilinguistic, multireligious, and postcolonial milieus?

  8. What form might Post-Humanism or Materialism assume in the study of the region’s media technologies, ecological issues, and animal rights?

  9. How might a critical engagement with movements and practices of modernisation, progress and development in Southeast Asia challenge, respond or contribute to Science and Technology Studies?

  10. How do creative producers such as writers, filmmakers, artists, and curators borrow and create theory?

Teachers, writers, scholars, curators, filmmakers, and artists are all welcome to participate. Selected papers will be considered for inclusion in a planned edited volume.

This workshop is organized by CUHK’s Centre for Cultural Studies and MA in Intercultural Studies Programme, with support from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council’s (RGC) General Research Fund (GRF).

Please email your proposal of 250-300 words with a short CV to co-conveners Elmo Gonzaga ( and Nazry Bahrawi ( by the extended deadline of 22 November 2020.