About Us

ASEAS-UK facilitates cooperation between scholars, institutions and research programmes in Southeast Asian studies both within the UK and with other countries.

The Association was established in 1969 and has members from dozens of different universities and over 15 countries, including academics, postgraduate researchers and others who are just interested in Southeast Asia. 

ASEAS-UK is an educational charity which became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in 2016, reg. no. 1170590 - the Constitution can be accessed via the link the foot of this page.

ASEAS-UK is managed by an Executive Committee and a Research Grants Committee. The Association organises a conference every two years and additional seminars, liaises with academic organisations, publishes ASEAS-UK News (biannually), disburses grants, and works generally to advance members’ interests.

Executive Committee

Dr Deirdre McKay is Senior Lecturer in Social Geography and Environmental Politics at Keele University. Her research draws on both social/cultural geography and social anthropology to explore people's place-based experiences of globalisation and development. Her fieldwork is in areas of the global South and also with migrant communities from developing areas who have moved into the world's major cities. Much of her work has been conducted with people who originate in indigenous villages in the northern Philippines.

Secretary: Dr Janet Cochrane worked in Indonesia in the 1980s and 90s as an environmental activist and tour organiser, and subsequently worked and researched elsewhere in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Laos and Vietnam. Her research interests focus on the interface between rural development, biodiversity conservation and tourism, and especially on the evolving role of protected areas in the 21st century and on the factors leading to social-ecological resilience in tourism systems. She is a Visiting Fellow at Leeds University and Research Associate at Leeds Beckett University, and does consultancy work in Europe and Asia.

Treasurer: Chris Wongsosaputro is a part-qualified accountant working at EY. He completed his undergraduate degree in Statistics and Economics at UCL in 2014. Besides the UK, Chris has also lived in both Indonesia and Singapore, where he completed his education until high school. He joined ASEASUK due to his continued interest in developments in his native Southeast Asia, in particular within the political field. Chris speaks Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia fluently so members with an interest in either or both languages can reach out to him. Outside of work, he enjoys running, exercising, having coffee or a pint, dancing and karaoke.

Other Committee Members:

Graeme Barker

Graeme Barker is Disney Professor of Archaeology Emeritus and Senior Research Fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. The focus of his research is `human landscapes', the ways in which past societies and the environments they inhabited constructed and transformed each other. It is an interest he has pursued in different ecologies and with societies at different levels of complexity. The transition to farming has been a particular focus, and more recently his interests have also moved backwards in time to the behavioural adaptations made by Homo sapiens in its global dispersals, involving fieldwork in Borneo, Libya, and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Michael Charney is Professor of Asian and Military History at SOAS, the University of London. He is a military and imperial historian working on South East Asia in the premodern and modern periods and on precolonial and colonial West Africa. After receiving his PhD at the University of Michigan in 1999 with a thesis on the emergence of religious communalism in Arakan (Western Burma), he was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Centre for Advanced Studies at the National University of Singapore (1999-2001). After joining SOAS in 2001, Professor Charney published monographs on warfare in the premodern South East Asian region, the rise of monastic, military, and ministerial elites and their impact on the religious and intellectual life of the precolonial Burmese kingdom, and a history of the twentieth century in Burma before and during the lengthy period of military rule.

Matthew CohenMatthew Isaac Cohen is Professor of International Theatre and Director of the Centre for Asian Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has researched and studied practically the performing arts of Indonesia since 1988. He has taught and held fellowships and visiting appointments at the University of Glasgow, the International Institute for Asian Studies, the University of Connecticut, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Malaya, Sanata Dharma University, Leiden University, Yale University and Universitas Nasional. His most recent book is Inventing the Performing Arts: Modernity and Tradition in Colonial Indonesia (University of Hawaii Press, 2016).

Dr Margaret Coldiron is a practitioner-scholar, a specialist in Asian performance and masks, and Deputy Head of the BA (Hons) in World Performance at East 15 Acting School/ University of Essex. She is the author of Trance and Transformation of the Actor in Japanese Noh and Balinese Masked Dance Drama (Mellen Press, 2004), a contributor to The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre (2016) and has published articles and reviews in journals such as Asian Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Indonesia and the Malay World, SEAPA Journal and Consciousness, Literature and the Arts. She performs Balinese Topeng with Lila Bhawa Indonesian Dance Company and plays with Gamelan Lila Cita in London.

Alan Collins

Professor Alan Collins is Head of Department in Political and Cultural Studies at Swansea University. He is a specialist on Southeast Asian security with a specific interest in ASEAN. He has written on the security dilemma and security communities and has published three single-authored books on Southeast Asian security, as well numerous articles on ASEAN, securitization and societal security in Southeast Asia. He is currently working on the evolving human rights system in Southeast Asia, with a focus on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, and he retains a close interest in ASEAN’s aspiration to be people-centred.

Dr Tilman Frasch received his PhD from Heidelberg University and is now is Reader in Asian History at Manchester Metropolitan University. While his interests cover Southeast Asia, Buddhist studies and urban history rather broadly, his specialization and current research are in the field of early Myanmar history and culture – the city and kingdom of Bagan, its epigraphy, art and architecture. In recent publications, he explored the Theravada Buddhist cosmopolis before c. 1500.

Dr Tomas Larsson is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include Southeast Asian and especially Thai politics, political economy, and religion and politics. He earned his PhD in Government from Cornell University in 2007, and he won the 2008 American Political Science Association’s Walter Dean Burnham award for best dissertation in Politics and History. He is the author of Land and Loyalty: Security of the development of property rights in Thailand, published by Cornell University Press. His recent work has mainly focused on Buddhism and politics in Thailand.

Dr Claudia Merli is Senior Lecturer in Socio-Cultural Anthropology (Health) at Durham University. She is a specialist of Thailand and the Malay Muslims that live along the southern border. Her primary research is biopolitics and governmentality in Southern Thailand, specifically reproductive health, identity politics and bodily practices. She also investigated religious discourses and perception during and after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and thanatopolical dimensions of the forensic identification efforts following the disaster. She was consultant and co-author for the World Disasters Report 2014.

Dr Adam Tyson is Lecturer in Southeast Asian Politics at the University of Leeds. "When I first arrived in Indonesia in late 2003 I witnessed the build-up to Indonesia’s first direct presidential election in the new democratic era. This led me to investigate how political actors test the structural limits of power in both democratic and non-democratic settings. My research specialises in contentious politics, and my publications are based on field research in countries ranging from democratic Indonesia to semi-authoritarian Malaysia to autocratic China. My publications juxtapose the study of politics with land conflicts, agribusiness practices, ethnic identities, vigilante justice, new media and visual arts, and the evolving role of social organizations, all of which point to emergent forms of political agency that test, and sometimes transcend, the limits of the permissible."

Matt WaltonDr Matt Walton is the Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony’s College. His research focuses on religion and politics in Southeast Asia, with a special emphasis on Buddhism in Myanmar. Matt’s first book is Buddhism, Politics, and Political Thought in Myanmar (2016), published by Cambridge University Press. His next project is a comparative study of Buddhist political thought across the Theravada world. He has published a range of journal articles on Buddhism, ethnicity, and politics in Myanmar. Matt is one of the co-founders of the Myanmar Media and Society project and of the Oxford-based Burma/Myanmar blog Tea Circle.

Mr Ian Scholey, now retired, with a long-standing interest in Southeast Asia

Research Grants Sub-Committee

Chair: Professor V.T. King (SOAS; University of Leeds)
Secretary: Dr Deirdre McKay (Keele University)
Professor Matthew Isaac Cohen (Royal Holloway University)