Public Events

The Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre hosts wide and varied events, with
the aim to build upon a history of engagement between the LSE and Southeast Asia.

[SEAC's] many events and conferences are always well-conceived and excellently organised, featuring an excellent range of speakers and valuable networking opportunities.

Dan Caspersz, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office





Our events are free and open to the public, and operate on a first come first served basis unless specified otherwise. The events are well attended so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The majority of our events are audio recorded and published as podcasts. Past events marked with a (P) mean a podcast is available for download on each individual event page. Please be aware that by attending our events you may be visible in the audience in photos, and if you ask any questions these are likely to feature in our podcasts.

If you have any queries about our public events get in touch here. Join our mailing list for event reminders or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Upcoming events

More events organised by the SEAC will be announced soon.  

Past events 




Economic Prospects and Problems of the Four Asian Tigers

This conference, co-hosted with LSESU socieities, examined the economic opportunities and challenges of the Four Asian Tigers including Singapore with four speakers representating each economy.



Prospects for Elections in Thailand: The Future Forward Party under the Spotlight

This meeting was an opportunity for academics and audience members to challenge leaders of Future Forward to explain their political agenda and their vision for Thailand.



Automation and the Future of Work in Southeast Asia (P)

This seminar analyses current trends, forecasts, and theories of labour automation with regard to Southeast Asia and will discuss a respective future research agenda.


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LSE Southeast Asia Forum (SEAF) (P)

The conference had of four expert panels that examined a range of prevalent issues facing Southeast Asia. The Keynote Lecture addressed Singapore's priorities as ASEAN Chair in 2018 and was given by Her Excellency Ms Foo Chi Hsia (High Commissioner of the Republic of Singapore to the United Kingdom).


Policy Entrepreneurs and US Burma Policy under President Obama

SEAC Director Dr Jürgen Haacke explores the role of policy entrepreneurs in relation to some of the key policy shifts that the Obama administration embraced towards Myanmar between 2009 and 2016.


Overcoming Poverty and the Role of Politics on Economic Growth in the Philippines

Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo, elected as Vice President of the Philippines on May 2016, speaks about her commitment to a pro-poor administration founded on good governance, as well as strong social welfare, public infrastructure and national security.


Unlocking Poverty Traps: what could 'Graduation Packages' change for Vietnam's ethnic minorities and Cambodia's ultra-poor? (P)

This seminar analyses whether multi-faceted 'Graduation Packages' could be the key to unlocking poverty traps for some of Southeast most vulnerable groups. 


Industrialisation and Backward Linkages in Global Value Chains: new trade agreements and Vietnam's garments industry

This research seminar examines how trade agreements could allow countries to promote backward linkages in value chains, with a particular focus on Vietnam. 


The Ambon Jihad

SEAC Associate Dr Kirsten Schulze looks at the Ambon jihad fought in the context of the Ambon conflict in Indonesia from 1999-2005.


Circulations of Urbanism and Real Estate Capital: the case of Korean and Singaporean developers in Vietnam (P)

SEAC Associate Dr Hyun Bang Shin investigates the practices of South Korean and Singaporean real estate developers in Vietnam, and what effect they have had on social and spatial justice.


Red North, Blue North, Yellow North, Whose North? Contesting Thai Nationalism in Shinawatra Country (P)

SEAC Visiting Appointment Dr Joel Selway explores whether there are certain elements of nationalism that boost Thai national identity in the north of the country more than others.


Drugs and Development: from colonialism to the SDGs

This Research Fund seminar explores some of the issues linked to illicit drug markets in Myanmar with reference to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Was the ISIS Threat in Southeast Asia Overblown? (P)

Sidney Jones looks at the factors that raised alarm bells about terrorism in Southeast Asia, the lessons learned from Marawi and the risks going forward.



Disavowing Liberalism

Disavowing Liberalism: the political legitimacy and longevity of the People’s Action Party in Singapore (P)

This talk considers whether the ‘socialist’ elements of the early years of Singapore’s state formation by the People’s Action Party (PAP) accounts for the party’s longevity in parliamentary power.

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Bringing Institutions Back In: ASEAN’s institutional logics and effects at a time of great power transition (P)

In its 50th year, ASEAN faces a range of contemporary challenges that have called into question its strategic place and security contributions in East Asia. This talk considers the mixed effects of ASEAN institutions on Asia's changing strategic environment and the dynamics of great power competition.


ASEAN as an Actor in International Fora: its role in the UN and the WTO

Drawing upon ASEAN's policies in the United Nations and World Trade Organisation, Professor Jürgen Rüland addresses the ways in which member governments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) achieve a collective presence in global fora.


Indonesia in ASEAN: reconciliation, active engagement and strategic reassessment (P)

His Excellency Dr Rizal Sukma, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the UK and Ireland, assessed Indonesia's role in ASEAN and the extent to which ASEAN remains the main platform for the attainment of Indonesia's changing national and international priorities.

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Armed Groups, State and Society in Myanmar (P)

Based on years of extensive field work in the border areas of Myanmar, panellists discussed the dynamics of armed politics, social orders and state formation in light of the country's peace process and wider transition.

This event was hosted in collaboration with the LSE Global South Unit.


The Challenges of Trump's America and Xi's China: perspectives and strategies in Northeast and Southeast Asia

This double-panel event compared and contrasted old and new priorities and policy instruments pursued by the US and China vis-a-vis East Asia, and examined how states in Northeast and Southeast Asia are manoeuvring in reaction to the various challenges.

The event was in collaboration with the LSE Department of International Relations

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LSE Southeast Asia Forum 2017

The day included a keynote lecture by H.E. Antonio M. Lagdameo, the Ambassador of the Philippines to the UK, and four expert panels that examined a range of prevalent issues that have affected the region since the establishment of ASEAN 50 years ago, including the AEC, foreign and domestic policy, and human rights agendas.

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Civil Society and Shrinking Political Space: the future of human rights in Southeast Asia (P)

Civil society in Southeast Asia has come under threat from shrinking political space, funding challenges and internal competition over issues and resources. Dr James Gomez asks: what is the future of human rights in the region?

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Sharing Sovereignty: peacebuilding and the UN's joint ventures in Timor-Leste and Cambodia (P)

Dr John Ciorciari discussed the practice of “sharing sovereignty” is apparent in Timor-Leste and Cambodia, where the UN shares responsibility for key sovereign functions when national governments cannot do so effectively.

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Is Regionalism Passé? Infrastructure for Integrating South and Southeast Asia (P)

Dr Ganeshan Wignaraja examines the costs and benefits of closer infrastructure connectivity between South and Southeast Asia, and the role of national policies and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

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Myanmar's NLD-led Government: one year on (P)

Dr Khin Mar Mar Kyi, Dr David Brenner and Prof Marie Lall discuss to what extent has Daw Aung San Suu Kyi been able to make headway on major issues and key challenges the country has faced, one year after Myanmar's landslide election.

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Islamisation Through Democratisation? Deciphering Calls for Islamic Law in Contemporary Indonesia (P)

Dr Michael Buehler and Dr Chris Chaplin discuss to what extent there has been growing acceptance for conservative Islamic activism and how democracy has provided opportunities for politicians and Islamic organisations to push an Islamic agenda.

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Vietnamese Trajectories: negotiating refuge and belonging through forced migrations (P)

Dr Stephen James looks at serial migrants through their varied forced journeys across the globe and into local and transnational group identities across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

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Religion and Nationalism in Southeast Asia: conflict and contestation in the conception of nationhood (P)

Political contestations between the state and minority groups have long been a major feature of Southeast Asia. Prof Joseph Liow casts light of the religious character of some of these conflicts.



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Who Developed Vietnam? The Role of International Donors (P)

Although substantial development challenges remain, Vietnam’s achievements are remarkable. Prof Jörn Dosch asks: is Vietnam’s rapid development a success story of development cooperation or rather the result of domestic reforms?

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Sex Trafficking in Southeast Asia: the context of desire, duty, and debt (P)

Dr Trude Jacobsen examines long-standing cultural perspectives toward marriage, familial obligation, debt bondage, and the implications that ethnicity and gender have for persons entering into these contracts.

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The Future of the US ‘Asia Pivot’

The key question is whether the next US president will make Asia a priority and how the region will react to it. Dr Evan Medeiros discusses this and other issues at a critical time for the Asia-Pacific.

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Duterte’s Bloody Democracy in the Philippines (P)

Prof Mark R Thompson looks at why Duterte won the recent presidential election and has “stuck to his guns” in waging a violent war on drugs and explores its implications for the future of democracy in the Philippines and beyond.

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South China Sea: salient aspects of the arbitration between the Philippines and China (P)

Tjaco van den Hout discusses what has been at stake from the perspective of international law, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), its default mechanism of arbitration to settle disputes, and the legality of territorial claims.

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LSE Southeast Asia Forum 2016 (P)

The day included two keynote lectures and four expert panels on topics including: ASEAN Security, religion in Southeast Asia, inclusion and exclusion in Southeast Asia, and a panel by the LSE SU ASEAN Society.

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Rebranding ASEAN as a New Global Player (P)

ASEAN has never been able to realize its full political and economic potential. Khun Abhisit Vejjajiva asks: what are the main impediments holding ASEAN back? Can ASEAN play a role in re-shaping a new regional order in the Asia-Pacific region?

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How Did Aung San Suu Kyi Win So Big? (P)

Peter Popham showcases his latest book The Lady and the General and seeks to identify the secrets of Aung San Suu Kyi's phenomenal achievements as a woman in a highly macho political culture.

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Yanmagon: Faces of Yangon - Film screening and Q&A with Director

Yanmagon: Faces of Yangon is a portrait of a changing city, the former capital of Myanmar, through the eyes of its activists, architects, poets, photographers. Director François Le Pivain answers a Q&A on his production.

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Before It Spread Like Wildfire: An archaeological perspective on slash-and-burn farming

Dr David Clinnick and Dr James Walker explore how early farming techniques spread throughout island Southeast Asia, finding that archaeological data seemed to contradict many common and contemporary views on slash-and-burn farming.

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The Philippines and China: Options for Resolving Overlapping Claims in the South China Sea

H.E. Enrique A. Manalo clarifies the Philippine policy on the West Philippine Sea and its understanding of its international treaty obligations under the 1982 LOSC, the UN Charter and the ASEAN Charter.

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Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants in the colonial Philippines

Prof William Clarence-Smith discusses how Middle Eastern and South Asian migrants contributed significantly to the history of the colonial Philippines, chiefly coming to profit from a frontier of economic opportunity.

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A tale of two endings: A comparative perspective on civil war in Papua and East Timor

Dr Claire Smith argues that if we contrast the ending to East Timor’s civil war with that of the comparable war in Papua, we can sharply see just how contingent East Timor’s negotiated ending was on a unique combination of specific events.

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Borneo Burning: Deforestation, El Nino, Reforestation (P)

Dr Roger Montgomery examines recent evidence on deforestation, the cause and impact of El Nino, and in contrast the surprising areas where tree planting has been a major success in Indonesia.

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Australia's role in Indonesian independence - liberal internationalism in action, or the realpolitik of regional security? (P)

Bruce Watson argues that Australia’s motivation in supporting Indonesian independence was not founded on liberal internationalism or distaste for colonialism, it was founded as a quest for security. 

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The Material Culture of Japanese-Held Captives in WWII British Asia (P)

Dr Felicia Yap analyses the material culture of migrating Allied captives during the Japanese occupation of British Asia, focusing on the experiences of civilians in occupied Hong Kong, with examples from Malaya, Singapore and Borneo.


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ISIS in Southeast Asia: The Apocalypse, Just War and Pragmatic Jihad (P)

Dr Greg Fealy examines the multiple motivations that have led fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to join ISIS, looking at the structures of mobilisation and recruitment for the Islamic State.

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Trading Places? Muslim modernists and traditionalists in Indonesia since the Reformasi (P)

Dr Carool Kersten discusses his latest book, Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values which examines intra-Muslim debates on the role of Islam in public life which evinces a broad spectrum of voices characterized by two developments.

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New Attitudes to Peacekeeping Operations in ASEAN

Despite the region’s enormous diversity, almost all of ASEAN’s members are showing a greater interest in supporting peacekeeping operations. Dr David Capie explores evolving attitudes towards peacekeeping among Southeast Asian states.

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LSE Asia Forum in Singapore

On Saturday 28th November, as part of the 120th anniversary celebrations, LSE held its Asia Forum in Singapore. The event, within the new series of regional LSE Global Forums, celebrated the achievements of the School and its alumni.

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Compliant Citizenship: On the Islamic Authority of the Indonesian State

Dr Nicholas Long analyses how the difficulty of accurate moral perception within Indonesia’s Riau Islands Province leads citizens to abrogate their own responsibility with a state that has constituted itself as an Islamic actor.

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Monks and Politics in Theravada Southeast Asia

Dr Matthew Walton argues that, while the issue of monastic engagement with politics will remain an essentially contested question, examining monks’ arguments in particular contexts can reveal changing dynamics in the institution of the sangha.

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Myanmar on the Brink (P)

Mark Canning, Dr Jurgen Haacke and Shibani Mahtani discuss the outcome of those general elections and how Myanmar will achieve economic success comparable to those of its ASEAN neighbours.

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Malaysia: Fighting Religious Extremism 

Dato Noor Farida Ariffin, former Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands, expresses the grave concerns over religious bodies asserting authority beyond their jurisdiction; and various fatwa which violate the Federal Constitution.

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Dealing with China (P)

Henry M. Paulson Jr. talks about his new book, Dealing with China, which takes readers behind closed doors to the future of China's state-controlled capitalism, in conversation with Lionel Barber.

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Malaysia: Healing the Nation

What is the “Malaysian nation” – and what is the state of its health? In this lecture Tunku 'Abidin Muhriz considers the competing versions of the Malaysian nation, and the resultant divergent prognoses and calls to action.

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Post-Coup Thailand: Anxiety over the Royal Succession

Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun discusses the unlikeliness of stabilising Thai politics, as voters become alienated in the political process à la Prayuth, and large-scale violent protests are seen as unavoidable in order to restore democracy.

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LSE Literary Festival 2015 - Southeast Asia Panel (P)

This year ASEAN becomes an integrated economic community. Ahmad Zakii Anwar, Nickson Fong and Yang-May Ooi ask: what is the culture that sits comfortably with Southeast Asia's place in the global economy?

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Hong Kong: The Struggle at the End of History (P)

Prof Danny Quah, Prof Conor Gearty, Isabella Steger and Raymond Li discuss how the Umbrella Revolution has re-ignited a worldwide debate on democracy in particular, and a battle over success in economic and political governance.

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AEC 2015: A Perspective from Business (P)

How will AEC change political and economic landscape of the region? Will it be sustainable? These are some of the questions addressed by Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group, a leading ASEAN Banking Group.