Asia - South East region | University of Oxford
Buddhist devotees lighting candles at the full moon festival, Myanmar (Burma).
(Image credit: Juriah Mosin / Shutterstock).

Asia - South East region

Tropical Medicine

The University’s largest presence in the region is through our collaborations on Tropical Medicine. Oxford’s Tropical Medicine Laboratories are among the largest-scale and most enduring research facilities run by any university overseas.

Oxford leads the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme, established in 1979, which conducts vital research into malaria, typhoid, avian flu, and other tropical diseases. Oxford scientists have established a network of excellence in the study of tropical diseases in East and South East Asia and links groups from across the Asian continent to Oxford and the UK.

The majority of the research is undertaken in two Wellcome Trust funded major overseas programmes: the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok, Thailand and the Wellcome Trust-Mahosot Hospital Oxford University Tropical Medicine Research Collaboration (LOMWRU) based at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

In addition to these major programmes, Tropical Medicine also brings together a number of sister groups in Laos, Tanzania, Indonesia and Nepal, and collaborators around the world. Jointly these programmes employ over 1200 staff, from 17 nationalities. They have 12 bases and 5 clinics across 7 Southeast and East Asia countries.

Network partners include centres in Vietnam and Thailand and recently Shantou University in China. Research is also carried out in conjunction with local partners in Bangladesh, Burma, Indonesia, and Nepal. The team study a range of infectious diseases including malaria, dengue fever, influenza, tuberculosis and many others.

One of the critical pieces of work being done by Dr Paul Newton who directs the Lao Oxford Mahosot Wellcome Trust Research Unit (LOMWRU) in Vientiane, Laos is to identify, track and measure the frequency of fake anti-malaria drugs in the region. Fake medications are distributed extensively in the region and have dangerous effects, both through untreated malaria and through their impact on malarial resistance to drugs.

To learn more, visit the Oxford global health research partnerships site here: Oxford Global Health

Research on South-East Asia

The University’s work on South East Asia is not just confined to clinical medicine; rather, it is spread throughout the University’s four divisions and its many Schools, Departments and Faculties. A small sample to illustrate the range of this work includes:

In the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford’s James Martin Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, Dr Lauren Coad, is collaborating with colleagues at the WWF programmes in Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia to assess the effectiveness of current measures to protect wild tiger populations in south and south-east Asia through land management and protected area management. Her team recently issued a report showing that current efforts to protect tigers, particularly against resources extraction industries in protected areas, have been failing largely due to weak enforcement and inadequate budgets.

Oxford’s Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity (CRISE) is a collaborative project investigating the linkages between inequality, ethnicity and violence. Southeast Asia was one of the 3 regions studied by the network which saw Oxford academics working in partnership with local scholars in Indonesia and Malaysia.

A new collaboration in Mathematics between Oxford University and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and their respective Centres for Applied and Industrial Mathematics has recently been established, with the aim of  building up research capacity and knowledge base for industrial mathematics at UTM through training young researchers.

Young Lives project: Vietnam is one of the study countries of the Young Lives project, long term international study of childhood poverty following the lives of 12,000 children over 15 years in 4 countries. Commencing in 2001, the project has already published extensively on findings from Vietnam.

At the Institute of Population Ageing Philip Kreager researches comparative demographic systems in Indonesia. He was Director of the Ageing in Indonesia study from 1998-2007.

Eva-Lotta Hedman, Senior Research Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre has published important work on forced migration, social movements, and the contestation of state and civil society in Southeast Asia.

Paul Jepson, who leads the MSc course in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy, researches conservation governance and was previously Indonesia Programme Director for BirdLife International from 1991-1997.

Asian Studies Centre

The Asian Studies Centre at St Antony’s college, founded in 1982 as the successor to the Far East Centre, is primarily a co-ordinating organisation which exists to bring together specialists from a wide variety of different disciplines.

Geographically, the Centre predominantly covers South, Southeast and East Asia, and is home to the weekly Southeast Asian Studies Seminar Series is an interdisciplinary seminar series dedicated to presenting cutting edge research about Southeast Asia.

Seminars are wide-ranging and transnational, offering comparative research on political and geographical Southeast Asia. Recent seminar topics include Southeast Asian history, politics, religion, economics, culture, and society. The Asian Studies Centre supports comparative research on Asia, and research on regional themes, to encourage debate and dialogue within the diverse student body of St Antony’s College and across the University more generally.

A small group of Oxford academics who specialise in Southeast Asian studies have set up ‘Project Southeast Asia’ as a focal point for academic and research activity on the region, with the aim of eventually establishing a Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at the University. In March 2013, Oxford will host the 2nd Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium organised by Project Southeast Asia which will focus on contemporary and transregional issues, and will serve as a forum for interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations. Their website provides excellent details of Oxford’s multiple links in the region.

The Faculty of Oriental Studies also hosts the newly established Buddhist Studies Unit, headed by the Numata Professor of Buddhist Studies, and will soon be offering undergraduate and graduate courses in the field of Buddhist Studies.

Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford, established in 1985 to encourage the scholarly study of Islam and the Islamic world. The Centre has hosted a number of Southeast Asian Islamic scholars and public figures through its distinguished lecture series, including two Prime Ministers of Malaysia; Dato' Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad and HE Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Oxford University Press

In keeping with its truly global scope, Oxford University Press has a wide presence in the region including a publishing branch in Malaysia and Singapore and offices or agents in Korea, Philippines, and Thailand. Oxford has educated or provided visiting fellowships to many famous leaders of Southeast Asia, including: King Vajiravudh of Siam (Christ Church, 1899) and former Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (St John’s, 1985); Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah of Brunei (Magdalen, 1997); Timor-Leste’s First Lady Kirsty Sword-Gusmão (Refugee Studies Centre, 1990) and current President, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr José Ramos-Horta (St Antony’s, 1987); and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (St Hugh’s, 1964).