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Conference Description

Methodology in Southeast Asian Studies: grounding research - mixing methods

It is widely recognized that Area Studies and Social Science disciplines could mutually enrich each other. However, instead of a fertile dialog, their relation has sometimes been framed as a conflict between rigorous research designs and context-sensitive in-depth research, between generalizable and local knowledge, or even between academic imperialism and necessary counter-movements from the regions.

At its very core, the matter in dispute is „methodological“: it concerns the practices of knowledge generation and the status of particular forms of knowledge. The conference on „Methodology in Southeast Asian Studies” organized by the Southeast Asian Studies program at the University of Freiburg therefore seeks to cultivate a middle ground between area and discipline oriented research.

The relation of globalized science and research on the ground will be explored by focusing on two interrelated topics. First, methodological reflection in Southeast Asian Studies has to encompass the general setting of knowledge production and needs to inquire into the multiple facets of appropriate research practice. The middle ground to be explored here is only delimitated by scholars claiming universality of theory and method on one side and the assertion of essentially contingent and situated theories or even area-specific and localized research practice on the other side.

The second objective of the conference is to dig deeper into the toolbox of social science knowledge generation itself. To tear down the disciplinary, methodological mental boundaries, participants in the conference will reflect upon the opportunities of several forms of triangulation – between researchers, data, theories and methods – which they employ in their research. Conference speakers will present their own work and show how they question the scope of existing research methods and explore how methods could be mixed, blended and combined. The discussion will include pragmatic ways of searching for compatibilities and promoting communicative attempts between practice and knowledge located in the respective research paradigms.