Reframing the South China Sea: Worskhop in Brunei, November 11-13

November 11, 2013.  

The workshop will look at the South China Sea from a different and novel perspective. It will look back into history, where the SCS has facilitated trade and cultural exchange, migration, the spread of languages, and the creation of maritime states. It will also consider resources and opportunities of the SCS from fishing, to shipping, mining and cultural exchange. The South China Sea will be looked at as a “mediterranean sea” and compared to other landlocked seas in Asia and elsewhere. Lessons will be learned from adopting a comparative perspective.

In recent years, the South China Sea has become a locus of increasing importance in media and policy circles. The attention is in large part due to the growing competition over access to its shipping routes and resources. Yet, discussions about and political claims over the South China Sea are more often than not framed in reductive strategic terms. This preponderance limits our capacity to think critically about the South China Sea as a contested maritime space and its possible futures.

A workshop, co-organized by the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), will seek to look at the South China Sea from three perspectives:

1. Political and economic perspectives that outline various types of resources, i.e. shipping lanes, territorial claims, fishing rights, oil and other natural resources.

2. Comparative historical views of “mediterranean seas” outlining certain common characteristics related to tensions and even armed conflict, but also solutions to such problems.

3. The third focus is central to establishing the South China Sea as a ‘cultural area’, namely a cultural and social commons bound together by sea faring, migration, language and customs. Utilizing macro-sociological and cultural anthropological approaches to classify and understand the assertion of proprietary claims over “mediterranean seas” assists in reframing the terms of the debate.

Conference convener is Professor Hans-Dieter Evers, ZEF Senior Fellow and currently Eminent Visiting Professor, Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. For details visit .

The workshop is led by ZEF senior fellow Hans-Dieter Evers (

For more information on the program please look at



Solvay Gerke

Prof. Dr. Solvay Gerke


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