Placing Islands in Sustainable Urban Development: Heritage, Histories, Tourism, and Identity 

Sharon Ong Announcement
Subject Fields
Asian History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Geography, Southeast Asian History / Studies


Over the past centuries, many offshore islands across Southeast Asia experienced drastic transformations to their social, physical, and symbolic landscapes. These changes have been brought about by technological advancements, transitions in political regimes and migratory flows, national and regional economic growth, and the shifting positions of these offshore islands within their respective nation-states. But in the course of such multifaceted development, the histories of these offshore islands have been largely forgotten. Although some of these histories may have found sanctuary through informal and intangible memory-making processes such as heritage tourism, the material aspects associated with these histories have largely been abandoned or demolished, ultimately jeopardizing the long-term survival of these histories. Increasingly, the preservation of natural heritage is also the focus of many offshore islands due to interest in ecotourism. There are seldom efforts to bridge the gap between the cultural history and the natural heritage of the islands despite their deep linkages.

This interdisciplinary workshop thus aims to invite researchers to share their findings on the histories of the offshore islands—defined here as the smaller secondary islands within nations—of Southeast Asia. Of interest to this workshop are offshore islands that, in the past, had robust populations but  has since declined for various reasons, and are currently connected to large cities or urbanising regions. We hope to articulate the possible connections and continuities, along with the emergent development and heritage conservation practices, amongst a range of offshore islands throughout Southeast Asia. We seek theoretical and empirical papers that:

  1. Highlight the interplay of cultural and natural aspects of island heritage, thereby challenging divisions between urban/rural, cultural/natural, and tangible/intangible heritage that currently dominate academic and policy approaches to heritage conservation;
  2. Explore how memories/heritages of the offshore islands may be made, unmade, or remade within the context of national and global pressures imposed upon them. Of interest are how vernacular memories of former island residents are being remembered and communicated;
  3. Examines the possible futures of these offshore islands, noting the challenges and opportunities in the conservation of their remaining tangible and intangible heritage

Submission of Proposals
Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief biography including name, institutional affiliation, and email contact. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. By participating in the workshop, you agree to participate in the future publication plans of the organizers. The organizers will provide hotel accommodation for 3 nights and a contribution towards airfare for accepted paper participants (one author per paper) who are based overseas.

Please submit your proposal using the provided paper proposal form to Ms Sharon Ong at no later than 30 April 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by mid-May 2019. Participants will be required to send in a completed draft paper (5,000-8,000 words) by 29 July 2019.

Contact Information

Workshop Convenors

Dr Hamzah Muzaini | Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore
Dr Creighton Connolly | School of Geography, University of Lincoln, UK
Dr Sonia Lam-Knott | Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore  
Assoc Prof Ho Kong Chong | Asia Research Institute, and Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore  

Contact Email