[Yogyakarta, Indonesia] – On September 4, 2023, the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS) brought together scholars, experts, and enthusiasts for an enlightening session of the CESASS Talk Series #2 part 1. Held in sync with the 2023 ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, this discussion delved into the heart of ASEAN identity and unity.
Dr. Piti Srisangnam, the Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation, served as the speaker, captivating the audience with his presentation on “The Narrative and Construction of ASEAN Identity.” The discussion was moderated by Dr. Luqman Nul Hakim, a CESASS Researcher and accomplished International Relations Lecturer.
The talk unfolded as Dr. Srisangnam dig into the essence of ASEAN identity and its formation, offering profound insights into how it has evolved and continues to shape contemporary ASEAN values. Drawing from Southeast Asia’s rich traditions, customs, and beliefs that predate the establishment of ASEAN, Dr. Srisangnam highlighted the pivotal role of acculturation and the harmonious blending of diverse cultural communities in shaping the core values of the region.
Dr. Srisangnam’s discourse continued to shed light on ASEAN unity, emphasizing the strengths of Southeast Asian nations, both individually and as dynamic economic partners. He underscored ASEAN’s remarkable journey to becoming the fifth-largest economy globally, boasting a population of over 600 million, predominantly comprising the resilient younger generation.
A key highlight of the talk was Dr. Srisangnam’s historical perspective on ASEAN unity, tracing its roots back to the 19th and 20th centuries. He elucidated how the Cold War period witnessed the United States and the USSR vying for influence in Southeast Asia through their political ideologies, shaping the region’s political landscape.
Furthermore, Dr. Srisangnam expounded on the principle of ASEAN centrality, emphasizing the organization’s pivotal role as an advocate for policy coordination among major global powers. He eloquently described ASEAN’s strength as emanating from its remarkable diversity, where a harmonious blend of culture and economics fosters innovation and solutive decision-making.
However, Dr. Piti expressed valid concerns regarding the unity of ASEAN, urging Southeast Asian nations to shift their focus towards regional issues that benefit all nations, rather than exclusively concentrating on individual interests.
In sum, CESASS Talk Series #2 Part 1 offered an intellectually stimulating journey through the intricacies of ASEAN identity and unity. Dr. Srisangnam’s compelling presentation left the audience pondering the profound connections between vision, identity, and shared values in the dynamic landscape of Southeast Asia.