|“CEAS is a product of different voices nonetheless speaking to one another. The CEAS community… is emblematic of ASEAN Plus Three’s potential to work with and across substantial difference.”Surin Pitsuwan Former Secretary-General of ASEAN (2008-2012)
In Southeast Asia today, spaces of economic and political activity are seen to be the predominant and determinative sites of regional integration. Less heralded is the role of pedagogical materials, scholars and academic institutions in creating the knowledge and understanding required for effective and informed regionally oriented actors. Bringing together scholars from Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam (the “Association of South East Asian Nations Plus Three” or APT countries), the Community of East Asian Scholars project focuses on the potential of academic practice to promote an emergent and responsible regional consciousness.
Supported initially by Thammasat University in Bangkok and later by the first higher education grant awarded to an ASEAN based project by the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund, CEAS’ aim was two-fold. The first goal was to commission papers by leading scholars from the ASEAN and APT community. They were asked to analyse, from their viewpoint of being in their respective countries and in the region, the key promises, issues and challenges faced by ASEAN and APT. The results of their work were collected in three edited volumes: Advancing the Regional Commons in the New East Asia, Institutionalizing East Asia: Mapping and Reconfiguring Regional Cooperation and Regional Community Building in East Asia: Countries in Focus. In providing rigorous and expert perspectives on the history, politics and institutional processes of Southeast and East Asia by Southeast and East Asian scholars, CEAS hopes to encourage mutual understanding among and of APT countries. As a teaching material and as a source of insight, these three volumes will equip younger generations in the region with an important lens on their own regional architecture.
The second aim of the project was to stimulate collaboration, as well as longstanding connections among scholars and academic institutions in APT countries. Indeed, one of the highlights of the project has been the process through which the three volumes were developed. Over seven workshops, CEAS authors have shared, debated and modified chapter outlines and drafts. All three volumes reflect the collegial spirit of these workshops.
With our efforts realized in print, CEAS would like to thank the ASEAN Plus Three Fund for its generous support. Special thanks also go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, particularly the ASEAN Department and the Country Permanent Representative (CPR) at ASEAN Secretariat, for its continuous efforts and coordination, without which the project would not have successfully achieved its goals. Finally, all three volumes are the product of a long-term commitment by participant authors and editors for whom CEAS would like to express its deep gratitude.