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The Use of Heritage and Political Economic Development in Southeast Asia’s Regional Conflicts

Phacharaphorn Phanomvan
University of Oxford

Justin Chock
University of Oxford

Heritage is a broad concept that covers transfer of knowledge, culture, history, environment, and identity. In modern economic development, heritage is viewed as a public resource; in political science, it is viewed as an identity to unite people with diverse backgrounds. While discussions on Southeast Asian economics and politics typically examine the ASEAN community or South China Sea disputes, little attention is given to the nexus of heritage, economics, and politics.
Heritage can be used as a means of cooperation. The ability to move groups of people in a single direction with a powerful voice can be an engine for change and progress. However, the usage of heritage can also be counterproductive as divisions of history and identity continue to divide populations along ill-defined or arbitrary social and territorial boundaries. In this manner, heritage becomes a barrier to cooperation and the diversity of voices can be subsumed under a homogenous identity. Similarly, conflicts are often driven by resources, and Southeast Asia is no exception. This roundtable will examine the economic dimension of conflict and the means by and ends to which these groups conflict in opinion.
Through an examination of various contentious cases regarding heritage, this panel hopes to uncover the potential for heritage as a means of furthering cooperation, the barriers that heritage poses for further cooperation, and the solutions for overcoming these divisive aspects.


  • Phacharaphorn Phanomvan (University of Oxford) in Economic History candidate at Oxford University. She founded a heritage research initiative in Chulalongkorn University, dealing with local communities with archaeological resources. She will speak on economic history of heritage landscape developments, and barriers to developing heritage industries.
  • Veronica Walker-Vadillo (University of Oxford) DPhil in Archeology candidate at Oxford University.She will speak on the UNESCO 2001 Convention for the protection of underwater cultural heritage and current issues on maritime archaeology in Southeast Asia.
  • Fuadi Pitsuwan (University of Oxford) in International Relations candidate at Oxford University. He is a co-editor of an essay series on “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis” on the Diplomat Magazine. He will speak on Southeast Asia’s recent problem with the refugees within the context of heritage, economics and regional security.