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Created in 2001, the Institute for Research on Contemporary Southeast Asia is a French research centre based in Bangkok. It is part of the network of 27 French research institutes abroad (IFRE) supported by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE - UMIFRE 22) and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS - UAR 3142).

IRASEC’s mission is to develop research in the humanities and social sciences on and in the countries of Southeast Asia - Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam - and on the region as a whole.

IRASEC offers a privileged base for researchers specialising in the region from the CNRS or French universities who have obtained an assignment or a delegation at IRASEC (for a period of two to four years), while being in residence in the country in which they are specialists. A whole network of associate researchers reinforces IRASEC’s expertise and activities in the 11 countries of the region.


IRASEC’s missions

Research in social sciences and humanities on contemporary South-East Asia

IRASEC develops research on the countries of the region in the various disciplines of the humanities and social sciences : anthropology, demography, law, geography, contemporary history, art history, economics, education, political science and sociology. In an era of globalisation and increased interdependence, it takes an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective that considers the wider context of Asia and beyond. Its researchers develop and coordinate research programmes, international conferences, workshops and seminars in partnership with researchers from academic institutions in France and Southeast Asia.

IRASEC associates researchers working on Southeast Asia in common projects, especially young researchers and post-doctoral students. It supports the development of research in the humanities and social sciences in the region through annual field grants for doctoral students enrolled in French universities and by hosting Master’s level interns (1 and 2). Finally, it welcomes students, researchers and professionals working in the region who are visiting Bangkok.


Regional and international cooperation

Anchored in the academic landscape of Thailand and the entire Southeast Asian region, IRASEC’s researchers contribute to developing partnerships with local academic institutions. Each of its researchers based in a Southeast Asian country is attached to a local university or research centre, thus contributing to the strengthening of regional cooperation.

This network of established researchers, young researchers and doctoral students makes it possible to build projects and organise joint academic events to understand the political, economic, social and environmental transitions that are taking place in Southeast Asia.


Publications and an Open Access platform

Through its publications, IRASEC offers a cross-disciplinary view of the region and each country. In addition to its annual publication, Southeast Asia. Bilan Enjeux et Perspectives, the Institute publishes books in French and English, alone or in co-edition with French or Francophone publishers (CNRS Editions, les Editions de l’ENS, Les Indes savantes, Presses de l’Université du Québec), European and international publishers (NUS Press, ISEAS Publishing, I.B. Tauris, Palgrave Macmillan, Univ of Washington Press, SIRD etc).

Since June 2018, IRASEC offers free access to its publications via its OpenEdition Books platform. This multidisciplinary and multilingual portal (French, English, Spanish, Italian, German) specialises in electronic publishing in the humanities and social sciences.


Expertise open to a wider public

Not only does IRASEC take part in the academic debate, but it also works to raise awareness among a wider public on the political, economic, social and environmental transformations in South-East Asia today. Beyond the academic framework, IRASEC’s analyses are of direct interest to diplomatic and development actors and decision-makers, as well as to a wider public open to the region’s contemporary challenges, through conferences, debates and exhibitions. These events are co-organised with local, French (Alliances françaises, Instituts français), European or mixed institutions (French chambers of commerce in the region).


Research areas

IRASEC’s research projects focus on political, social, economic, environmental, cultural and religious developments in each of the countries in the region, as well as on the dynamics of regional integration (ASEAN).

  1. Political transitions : political cultures, civil societies, management of ethnic and religious diversity
  2. Territorial issues and development : maritime and terrestrial spaces, natural resources, sustainable cities, land policies
  3. Social dynamics : law, education, place and status of women, migration, health
  4. ASEAN : economic, political and regional integration perspectives
  5. Societies, environment, climate change : nature/culture, disaster management, resource degradation, public policies and planning