Culture and international imagination in Southeast Asia

Eric C. Thompson, Chulanee Thianthai, Irwan Hidayana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Using methods developed within cognitive anthropology, we examine the relationship between particular national discourses, cultural concepts and subjective ideas about the international system of nation-states referred to colloquially as countries in English, negara in Indonesian and prathet in Thai. The analysis is based on data collected among university students in Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. Broadly speaking, Indonesian, Singaporean and Thai university students share a similar domain of "countries" and similar understanding of what a country is, but they differ in important respects in the descriptive language and cultural schemata they deploy in thinking about this domain. The study has implications for debates on the status of culture in social theory and geography and for the future of regional integration in Southeast Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-288
Number of pages21
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Cognitive maps
  • Countries
  • Culture
  • Imaginative geographies
  • Southeast Asia


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