Place-making in Southeast Asia: Landscapes, Territories, and Communities

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Abstract

The territory that we refer to today as Southeast Asia has been understood and imagined in a variety of ways over time and space. From “Suvarnabhumi” to “Nanyang”, from the “Land Below the Winds” to “Farther India”, this region between ‘India’ and ‘China’ has been known by names that reflect the range of experiences, meanings, and worldviews of those who have travelled to, settled in, or traversed its waterways, coastlands, lowlands, and highland mountain ranges. Regarded by some as a “land of gold”, a Cold War battlefield, or as a tourist destination, different communities have constructed different images of Southeast Asia as a way of expressing their sense of belonging to the region.

In broad terms, this panel explores how Southeast Asian communities are connected to the habitat/spaces in which they live. The papers think about how Southeast Asian places have (and continue to be) conceptualized, demarcated, shaped, adapted, and reconfigured by communities as an expression of identity. The presentations consider how people build their environment and infuse meaning into a space via the way they use, imagine, and interpret their surroundings. More specifically, the studies here think about how places in Southeast Asia are “made”, focusing on the concepts, ideas, building patterns, rituals, histories, and lifestyles that give spaces meaning. Collectively, the papers focus on the processes and practices through which particular places in the region have been constructed.