Keynote Speeches

SEASIA is proud to present Prof. Wang Gungwu and Prof. Pasuk Phongpaichit to deliver keynote speeches for the 2015 SEASIA Conference in Kyoto.


KEYNOTE SPEECH by Prof. Wang Gungwu:

Towards a Region of New Nations


One generation embarked on a trunk road to an unknown destination. Another generation widened this road to accommodate the growing traffic. A third generation faces the question: to accept the several offers to build in other directions or to decline any further change until the road is completed. What are the steps taken so far to deal with the divergences and contradictions that various peoples and polities have placed in this obstacle race? Where will the road or roads likely to lead – if the ten nations remain united, and if they are not?


WANG Gungwu is University Professor at National University of Singapore; Emeritus Professor of Australian National University (ANU). He received his BA and MA from University of Malaya (MU) in Singapore, and PhD at SOAS, London. He was Professor of History at MU in Kuala Lumpur, Professor of Far Eastern History and Director of Research School of Pacific Studies at ANU, and Vice-Chancellor of University of Hong Kong. He is Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science and former President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.


KEYNOTE SPEECH by Prof. Pasuk Phongpaichit: 

Region and Academe in Turbulent Times


In the last few years, the world has become less stable and more risk-prone. The Ukraine conflict, China’s assertion of maritime power, and the appearance of the Islamic State have rung down the curtain on the “Cold Peace,” the era of US dominance since the end of the Vietnam War. The new planets in the political cosmology are authoritarian—China’s one party system and socialist market economy, Putin’s neo-Tsarism, and IS’s Caliphate—while the US’s liberal-democratic credentials are compromised by corporate finance and social conservatism. In the region, the eclipse of Thailand as a beacon of democracy has changed the political complexion, while the positive trends in Indonesia and the Philippines remain fragile. What are the implications of these new patterns for us, the people who study the region, interpret its trends for others, and sometimes try to influence them just a little? What should we be thinking about when we choose what to study and how to study it? What should we hope for, and what should we fear?


Pasuk Phongpaichit has a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge, UK, and is professor at the Faculty of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. She has worked as an expert at the International Labour Organization, and been a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, Kyoto University, University of Tokyo, GRIPS Tokyo, University of Washington, and Griffiths University Brisbane. She has been named a distinguished alumni of Monash University, Australia, and has given the W.F. Wertheim Memorial Lecture in Amsterdam. Her research has focused on corruption, the sex industry, the illegal economy, social movements, and inequality. Her publications range from From Peasant Girls to Bangkok Masseuses (1980) to Unequal Thailand (2015); several have been translated into several languages and received awards in Thailand, Japan, and the USA. With Chris Baker, she has written on Thailand’s history and political economy, including Thailand: Economy and Politics (1995), Thaksin (2004), and A History of Thailand (3rd ed. 2014). Their translation of The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen won the A. L. Becker Southeast Asian Literature in Translation Prize for 2013.


Download keynote abstracts