Research Focus and Strengths


Southeast Asia continues to witness transformations in politics, economics, culture, and society. Many of these shifts, which are driven by a combination of internal and transnational developments as well as shifts in technology are reflected in the region’s economic growth, rising living standards, impressive performance in broader human development indicators, expansion of political and civic spaces for citizen engagement, and greater economic and social interactions across Southeast Asia and with other parts of the world. There have also been important developments in literature, cinema and popular culture. Yet, amidst these progressive shifts are also signs of deep conflict and fragmentation, visible in the huge economic and social disparities in the region, suppression of political and civil rights, conflicts within and between states, security challenges, environmental degradation, cultural tensions, and clashes over value systems.

The School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) is well placed to explore these multidisciplinary perspective. SASS hosts a dynamic set of research active scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in the humanities and social sciences - anthropology, communication and media studies, comparative and international political economy, cultural studies, education, international relations, gender studies, film and screen studies, journalism, literary studies, political science, religious studies and sociology.

SASS scholars approach the study of social transformation from different theoretical angles drawn from these diverse disciplines and their analyses follow the broad range of methods used in the humanities and social sciences. Underpinning these scholarly enquiries is a critical and ethical attitude that seeks to link scholarship with praxis—making a difference to people and communities.

Towards this goal, SASS academics are actively networked through national and international research collaborations as well as through engaging NGOs, international organisations, industry, governments and communities. Our small but vibrant graduate student community is an integral part of SASS research. We believe that this multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to research is best suited to exploring, understanding and explaining the complex and dynamic social transformations in Southeast Asia.

Research Strengths

Currently, research on Social Transformation in Southeast Asia takes place through the School’s four research strengths:

  • Migration and mobility
  • Digital Asia
  • Climate change communications
  • Thriving Communities