Breeding Roses and Chasing Unicorns: Reflections from Europe on the Changing Field of Southeast Asian Area Studies

  • Saskia Schäfer (Author)


Drawing on classic articles on the field, approaches of New Area Studies and primary research on journals and study programmes, this article discusses the current state of Southeast Asian studies from a German perspective. Southeast Asian studies has transformed from a field informed by particular political interests into a container category subsuming various different scholarly programmes. Some of these are closely connected to various disciplines, others are trans- or interdisciplinary; some are in close contact with Southeast Asian policy-makers, for instance by educating their future bureaucrats and politicians, and others remain at a distance. Thirty years after the Cold War formally ended, Southeast Asian studies programmes differ vastly in their respective characteristics and outlooks. This article maps some of these and explores their similarities and differences as well as their relationships to the established disciplines.


Southeast Asian Studies, New Area Studies, Germany, Europe, discipline, field, reflections