About The Centre


Southeast Asia Research Centre

The Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC), inaugurated in 2001, is the only research Centre focused on Southeast Asia in Hong Kong, which is geographically close to this region. There are also several hundred thousand Southeast Asians living in Hong Kong, many as long term migrants and all ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have consulates in the city. This underlines the importance of SEARC as the sole research centre focused on the region in the city, undertaking cutting edge academic research while engaging in community outreach and cultural exchange.

SEARC brings together about thirty core members at the CityU, a number of research affiliates at other Hong Kong and overseas universities specializing in various disciplines related to research on the region and is advised by an international committee consisting of some of the world’s leading scholars of the region. SEARC members have a strong record in winning competitive external grant funding, helping to foster a steady output of high-quality publications in high impact research projects. SEARC has particular strengths in comparative politics, international relations, development, sociology, and anthropology but also brings together those interested in the cultures of this region. It holds regular academic seminars open to a CityU audience and a wider public, organizes larger workshops, and has hosted several major international congresses. Our members are often interviewed by the local and international press on important contemporary issues regarding Southeast Asia. SEARC also regularly hosts visiting fellows from the region and around the world. We also actively involved in establishing research networks with universities in Southeast Asia as well as with other centres focused on the region such as Cornell University, Stanford University, the University of Sydney, and Kyoto University.


SEARC’s mission is to continue to build on its strong international reputation as a centre of excellence for the study of political, social, economic, and cultural issues in contemporary Southeast Asia. Great attention is given to theoretical and cross-disciplinary analysis which addresses real-world challenges in political systems, economic development, social change religious issues, gender relations, migration, disaster management, etc. SEARC seeks to attract further competitive external grant funding, to collaborate internationally with other institutions, to conduct disciplinary-based and cross-disciplinary research in compelling academic debates in the social sciences, to generate high-quality research publications, and to reach the public through open events and media engagement. Engaging Hong Kong citizens, and in particular civil society organizations and the media, it aims to enhance understanding of the region within CityU, Hong Kong and beyond.


The objectives of the Southeast Asia Research Centre are:

  • to advance the Centre's international reputation and City University's standing by researching political, economic, and social developments in contemporary Southeast Asia;
  • to obtain competitive external grant funding;
  • to extend links to scholars and institutions researching other parts of the developing world, especially China and Northeast Asia, whose concerns resonate with those of the Centre;
  • to conduct disciplinary-based and cross-disciplinary research;
  • to address major debates in comparative politics, political economy, and comparative sociology;
  • to produce high quality research publications on contemporary Southeast Asia;
  • to engage Hong Kong citizens, especially civil society organizations, through open forums and media engagement; and
  • to enhance the study of Southeast Asia in Hong Kong and to increase understanding of the region within the CityU and Hong Kong communities.

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