Goh Beng Lan (ed.) Decentring & Diversifying Southeast Asian Studies: Perspectives from the Region, Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2011.
Current critical thinking on regions outside the West appears to have shifted from a preoccupation with the limitations of Western discourse to endeavours in fostering inter-referencing in Asian contexts as a means to decentre and diversify knowledge production (Chen 2010, Hillenbrand 2010). This book presents an instance of dialogue and elaborations among Southeast Asian scholars on their dilemmas and ethical recourse as they respond to the critique of area studies and new political-economic and cultural reconfigurations around them. It proposes that the contemplation of the future of Southeast Asian Studies by intellectuals in the region involves both epistemological and ethical questions: How can Southeast Asian intellectuals respond to current critical norms yet construct representations which are faithful to lived realities and meanings in the region and which can also challenge oppressive discourses at the official and oppositional levels? By insisting that theoretical distinctions are shaped by moral imperatives, this book hopes that it can help bring to an end the quarrel between insider-outsider or regional versus Eurocentric perspectives on Southeast Asia. The different interpretations between insider/regional or outsider/European perspectives may be more telling of distinct ethical-political imperatives in knowledge production than the ontology of Southeast Asia. Rather than being oppositional, these different perspectives may in fact complement each other.