Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Southeast Asia = Digital Diversity

How has the digital helped to articulate everyday life concerns of common Southeast Asians in all its sheer diversity?

Bart Barendregt

MSc Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology - Research opportunity

This project welcomes studies on how the digital has helped to articulate everyday life concerns of common Southeast Asians in all its sheer diversity, the ways the digital comes with new affordances and how it may offer new exciting ways of full participation in a public life previously not deemed possible.

Southeast Asia is a young, vibrant and upmarket region that in a generation time has witnessed the shift from being undeveloped into a primary test market for the uptake of global technologies. With all the world’s religions around and democratic and open societies in the (un)making, it is definitely one of the most diverse regions worldwide. Southeast Asia offers countless possibilities for studying how social life is currently being reworked by the digital, but also how the digital in turn is being appropriated and inserted into prevailing life practices or helps to extend existing social relations or institutes, especially by those too often left out.

This program facilitates fieldwork projects in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (although research in Thailand and the Philippines is a possibility as well), where students may make use of our extensive partnerships with local universities.

We especially welcome projects that focus on the following three facets of a digitally diverse Southeast Asia:

  1. Ideology: to which extent the digital is facilitating alternative forms of religious expression and thinking (think here of minority religions resorting to online platforms, new young, female actors within Islam taking advantage of digital affordances);
  2. Information; how has digital technology helped facilitating new forms of knowledge production and innovative representation thereof (for example, the rise of wikis, citizen science, and open source activists);
  3. Inclusion; how has digital technology helped (or failed) to articulate non mainstream identities and what can it do for their cause (for example, indigenous ICTs, LGBT online safe heavens or experimental zones, etc.)
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