Department of Southeast Asian Studies


Research and teaching focuses on issues of international and societal relevance in the field of Southeast Asian studies, with the following specialist areas:

  • Social-ecological research into society-nature relations
  • Institutional analysis
  • Gender inequality

In response to the methodological requirements of qualitative social research, our work gives rise to innovative interdisciplinary procedures and new forms of transdisciplinary collaboration with bearers of practical knowledge. Transboundary research, with a focus on Indonesia, opens up pathways to understanding through the adoption of comparative approach that is both theoretically and empirically grounded.

Research priority area: development sociology

Ländliche und urbane Räume unterliegen einerseits dem Wandel durch Globalisierung und andererseits einer veränderten gesellschaftlichen Wahrnehmung und Erwartungshaltung. Die Vernetzung ländlicher Räume durch Abwanderungen aus strukturschwachen Gebieten, sowie die Arbeitsmigration in Städte stellen neue Herausforderungen an die theoretischen Begriffe Lokalität und Nachhaltigkeit dar. Anhand von Fallbeispielen wie z.B. Biotreibstoffen und Biodiversität wird das Spannungsfeld der Entwicklung zwischen städtischen und ländlichen Räumen analysiert

Research priority area: institutional Analysis

Institutions are understood as rule-governed arrangements, which structure social institutions and thereby contribute to the coordination of human action. The enablement of collective action is central for the establishment and enforcement of rights of access to common-pool environmental resources. At the same time, analysis of the specific properties of natural resources, as well as stakeholder analysis, are required in order to determine ecologically appropriate governance structures. The interest shown by classical institutionalism in gender as an asymmetrical institution links our work to modern negotiation-focused approaches.

Research priority area: gender inequality

The focus is on understanding the process of the social production of gender, and identifying constant and variable elements therein. To this end, the approach draws on development sociology, organizational sociology and institutional economics. Chair incumbent Professor Martina Padmanabhan’s concept of Interface is used as a theoretical framework for analysing the negotiation of meaning, knowledge and power between the sexes in a life-world where gender inequality confronts other, competing logics.