The workshop aims to explore different cultural concepts underlying local and national cultural politics in Southeast Asia from an anthropological angle and to analyse the problems emerging between the different levels of cultural politics and the diverse interest groups involved in them.
There are two trends in the study of cultural politics in anthropology of SEA, which this workshop aims to bring together: the analysis of 1) national cultural politics and 2) the objects of these politics, eg local (cultural) groups. On the state level, culture/identity politics are often an important means to foster nation-building processes in multi-ethnic societies, but also as part of tourism, minority, development and religion policies or in order to differentiate the nation from the 'outside world'. Due to recent democratisation processes in the area local cultural politics are on the rise and increasingly influence regional politics as well as the cultural and political constitution of nation-states. Local and national cultural politics are not always characterised by mutuality, but by opposition and competition. On the local level (the revival of) culture and traditions can serve different purposes, like achieving self-determination, resistance against the state, access to natural resources, as touristic resource and to solve local conflicts the state is not entitled or able to solve. The workshop aims to explore cultural concepts underlying these politics from an anthropological angle and to analyse the problems emerging between the different levels of cultural politics and the interest groups involved in them. Besides the local and the national level, the inter-/transnational level might play a role as well; be it, for instance, the global discourse on human rights influencing national and/or local politics, or transnational networks that emerge with reference to a common culture/religion and that can challenge the nation-state.