AMSEAS seeks to provide new opportunities for the promotion and advancement of research relevant to Mainland Southeast Asia. Recognising the benefits of adopting a multidisciplinary approach and encouraging dialogue between scholars of the individual countries, we promote and support the study of Mainland Southeast Asia in Australian and New Zealand universities, as well as working to enhance the public knowledge of the region.
Mainland Southeast Asia is an area consisting of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. It is one of the world’s most culturally heterogeneous, linguistically diverse and economically dynamic regions. This diversity is a result of a long history of interconnected cultural exchanges by land and sea, as part of a vast trade network, which played an integral role in the area's rich religious, historical and socio-political dynamic.
Today it is home to three of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries, which are also among the ten fastest growing economies in the world. It is also a region of great political complexity. Two of its five members have post-revolutionary single-party states, while the remaining three have gone through distinctive processes of formation and change. Its governments all seek regional collaboration through ASEAN and other frameworks.
Mainland Southeast Asia possesses many shared national borders, including with China (Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) and India (Myanmar). Transborder connectivity is central to the region’s dynamic socio-economic and environmental transformations, as well as geopolitical contestations. In this context, hydropower development and natural resource management, regional and national security, as well as mineral resource extraction and migration patterns, are significant. These characteristics warrant strengthened interdisciplinary and cross-country collaboration in order to provide informed commentary on the importance of Mainland Southeast Asia in relation to Southeast Asia and beyond.
The Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars (AMSEAS) had its genesis in an initiative of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC), which commissioned a report into teaching and research on mainland Southeast Asia across Australian universities in 2017. Following that initiative – which identified close to 400 researchers who work on the region – SSEAC Director Michele Ford convened a steering committee to establish a sub-regional academic association. Members of that steering committee included Melissa Crouch (UNSW), Nick Cheesman (ANU), Simon Creak (Melbourne), Lan Anh Hoang (Melbourne), Patrick Jory (UQ), Sverre Molland (ANU), Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith), Kearrin Sims (JCU), and Aim Sinpeng (Sydney). An interim Council was subsequently established which included country representatives for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as an international liaison officer representative based in Singapore, postgraduate and media representatives, and later a representative of MSEA studies in New Zealand. The Association was incorporated in 2019 (many thanks to Melissa Crouch for her work towards this). The AMSEAS website and membership were developed in 2020 - 21 by Melissa Curley, Marnie Feneley (UNSW), Justine Chambers, and Patrick Jory.
Country Representative Laos
Nanyang Technological University
Mun (Mark) Vong
Country Representative Cambodia
Danish Institute for International Studies
Country Representative Myanmar
National University of Singapore
The University of Melbourne
Australian National University