Nguyen Minh Quang *

* Correspondence: Nguyen Minh Quang (email:

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Since the early 2000s, Southeast Asian economies have been emerging as an outstanding pillar in today’s globalizing world economy where the pressure to compete internationally has resulted in both an increase in academic efficiency that encourages inter-state and interdisciplinary collaborations and a resurgence of regional knowledge production to meet increasing demands of international businessmen, policy-makers and scholars who have begun to pay more attention to geo-politically important regions such as Southeast Asia. However, there is much contestation about the significance of Area Studies, unsolved contention between proponents of Area Studies and those of Disciplines, and the role of sociology of knowledge in facilitating Southeast Asian Studies as a field of study. This paper looks at the development of Southeast Asian Studies as a field of study which is characterized by the differences of the notion, scale and margin of “Southeast Asia region” across societies basically driven by the ideas behind sociology of knowledge approach. It then identifies and analyses major reasons fueling the existing tensions between Area specialists and skeptics as well as in what ways these tensions have been apparent. It is worth observing that the neo-liberalism progress, followed by deterritorialism, is assisting in increasing scholar mobility and closer collaboration between fields of research. This, as a result, paves the way for moderating the contemporary inter-disciplinary debates and increasing joint development though an international recognition of Area Studies in general does not seem to come by easily at the moment.
Keywords: sociology of knowledge, Southeast Asian Studies, area studies versus disciplines, inter-disciplinary debates

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