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The Making of a Region; Southeast Asia Research Paper

There are various issues and concepts that make a region. For a region such as Southeast Asia, there are integrated concepts that go hand in hand with its existence. Some of the important elements worth discussing when describing geographical regions like Southeast Asia include important dates, religion, political structure, cultural values as well as the naming systems that have been adopted.

Therefore, Southeast Asia as a region has dates that accompany it; for example, historical dates that explain how the place came to exist in Asia and the whole world. There must be some attached value to the particular name and sub-names in the region. According to Pulsipher and Alex (109), Southeast Asia is still reeling from hard economic times.

Such are the issues that make a region or define the livelihood exhibited by the inhabitants in the region. So far, Southeast Asia has been transformed tremendously since the World War II (Wolters, 107). There is now a strong foundation that makes the area recognized and has a culture that defines the people inside and the geography of the area.

There are a number of issues and concepts that define Southeast Asia as a region not only in Asia but in the entire world. As would be explained, some of the issues that form the geographical area in Southeast Asia are orientalism, visual representations, and critical cartography. There have been numerous developments associated with this region. These developments span from the end of the Second World War.

In addition, and as will be discussed later in this essay, Southeast Asia has a multiple membership and a combination of communities such as NAFTA, OAU (AU), NATO and/or European Union. Others are like the significances attached to ASEAN dealings that were advocating for regionally unity.

This was not only a valuable concept for the region, but also ensured that the region gained a cultural recognition and significance. This paper analyzes some of the concepts that are attached to Southeast Asia as a region and how it is attached to overall making of the region relative to how it is perceived by the rest of the world.

The theme of world regions

The themes of world regions fall under the sub-theme of geography. Generally, these themes define how the world is generally structured socio-politically and economically as well as the subdivisions that go along or accompany the very regions. There are five major themes of geography which also form the bulwark of world regions.

These are the location, the place, the environment-human interaction, movements, and regions. According to Golden (5), it is the factor of region that makes the greater meaning of subdivisions in the world or in the making of regions in the world. Regions help demarcate the world; for example, an area is recognized by a name that is different from another region.

This demarcation has helped put the world into different terms and names. For example, the world has 7 major continents which are then divided into countries.

A continent like Asia is subdivided into countries such as India and China while a continent such as Africa is divided into countries such as Kenya and Nigeria. Even the countries are subdivided, and into some circumstances, countries can be combined to form larger regions. For example, in a continent such as Asia, there is South, North, East and West Asia.

Regions are demarcated into areas or units defined geographically and which can easily be managed by the authorities in the region. Each and every other region has some characteristics that define it. For example, there are regions that are highly inhabited by a homogenous group of people while other areas have diverse groups inhabiting the regions.

Regions are marked by boundaries, and in most cases, these boundaries are defined by states, cities and marked official boundaries. It is these boundaries that give a region a name or a title, and this title comes with its culture. All regions are functional unless defined otherwise by internationally recognized bodies.

For example, a region may not invade another in terms of encroachment without full knowledge and authority of other governing bodies such as United Nations. Some other regions do not have defined bodies and are in the process of being demarcated by relevant authorities.

Southeast Asia as a region

This is a subregion of the larger Asian continent and consists of various countries in South of China, West or New Guinea, East of India and North of Australia (Pulsipher & Alex 28). Generally, Southeast Asia borders other countries like China, India, Australia and New Guinea.

This region lies on some geological plates’ intersections, and these are high in volcanic activities plus heavy seismic. The region has two major geographical regions namely Maritime Southeast Asia and Mainland Southeast Asia. The Maritime place has sub-regions like East Timor, East Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Christmas Island and Philippines.

On the other hand, Mainland section has areas such as Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam. As noted earlier, this regions borders major countries such as New Guinea, Australia, China and India. Therefore, it can be noted that this region has taken bits of cultures pertaining the named countries.

According to Pulsipher and Alex (32), there are some concepts that define the regionalism of Southeast Asia. Notably, this region can be considered to be built by many cultures integrated into one. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has played a significant role in the definition of this region.

Also, the area has been defined clearly by the events of major wars such as World War II and the Cold War (Pulsipher & Alex, 234). A number of reviews tend to take this place as a relation of a conglomeration of other communities. For example, the region takes major communities or groups of countries such as NATO, OAU (AU), NAFTA and/or European Union (EU).

This is to mean that the area does not have a homogenous form of politics; rather, there are many other communities or regions that are enjoined into one. That has its advantages and disadvantages, with the advantages being harmonized ideas while disadvantages being possible disintegration.

Southeast Asia is slowly turning itself into an economic hub (Abbott 35). However, the region has had to face tough economic times. Prior to the crisis, some of the states in this region such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia were considered to be some of the highly developing economics.

The slowing down of the regions economically was not to put the whole region into bad shape. And when the countries in this region started to recover from the crisis, the region as a whole started to show signs of a strong economic block. The sub-regions in the region have had common experiences, especially that of late industrialization (Pulsipher & Alex, 36).

The main reason as to this kind of lateness is due to major events in the world such as the Cold War and the World War II. Others were like the colonial and pre-colonial experiences; for example, the integration of this region; that is, the Southeast Asia into a world economy. It arguably predated spread of what was known as European colonialism. However, the region was not to experience these hardships and at long last, it has made to stand on its own and develop economically.

As a way of understanding better the regions and the sub-regions in it, the whole region is placed into a kind of global market. Essentially, this region is open to investments and trade from other areas, and therefore, its kind of developed does not focus on one area. There may be some regions around New Guinea which may be making some gains in particular aspects of development.

Other areas may be drawing inspirations from China’s products and others from India and Australia. This is to mean that there is no particular culture that can help define this region. The region does not close its border, and even though particular countries may restrict easy movement, the region as a whole works as open territory.

However, this does not make other inhabitants settle easily into the land without following due process. There have to be formal measures that have to be adhered to by the foreigners either in business or in habitation that is person.

Concepts in Making of Southeastern Asian region: Idea of regions and mental maps

The human mind has myriad of conceptions and perceptions that continually degenerates on a regular basis. Any psychological aspect is related to whatever is conceptualized in the mind. Therefore, the idea of regions as well as mental maps in relation to Southeast Asian region is a map and a region with the kind of boundary it may have and the characteristics of the region.

Whenever this region is mentioned, and with knowledge that it is a conglomeration of various states, it gives a concept of a region which has different cultures, people who subscribe to different values, different economic activities and different kinds of people.

Other than what is known about this region, the region can be conceptualized as an area that has had people of diverse backgrounds resolving to work as one. The region does not have a history of major violence other than the world wars. Therefore, it is a region a culture of tolerance and which has a sole focus of trending forwards economically as a region and not as constituent countries.


This concept refers to imitation of cultural values as depicted in the southeastern side of Asia. Most importantly, the concept refers to practices that have been adapted in the Middle East. In Southeast Asia, there have been oriental constructions in major areas. In this region, it is not only about reworking of theories related to culture bias and imperialism.

It is used in the productions of knowledge which have been called orientalism, and which have been used widely to question to attach meaning to major scholarly disciplines.

According to Halbfass (126), some of concepts of orientalism can refer to kings who were seeking to legitimize their status by use of brahminical rituals. In other instances, some leaders have tried to line some given constructions about people’s lack of discipline and unruly behavior to harsh penalties. There are also Orientals that regard the concept of being law-abiding in the area.

Visual representations

The concept of visual representation refers to the state of something in real sense. The sense of seeing is strong and gives a very strong impression about something. as concerning southeast Asia, some of the visual representations are like the religions in the area, the visual cultures helped by people in the area and generally the characteristics of people.

Visual representations differ from one area to another. For example, the visual representations in Europe cannot be the visual representations of Africa. This is because the ideals are different and some of major visuals may have different subscriptions. The way a religion is taken in Asia cannot be the same in Africa.

There are some other forms that describe the visual representations as concerning this particular region. The art form in this particular region is quite different from the kind of arts that are practiced in other areas such as China, India or even the art form of the European countries.

On religion, Buddhism is the popular one and this is because it takes the shape of the larger Asian religion. In essence, the whole of Asia is termed the Buddhist world. Virtually all areas or countries in Southeast such as Thailand and Burma practice deep Buddhism which makes it a real culture or visual representation.

On cultures, the religion is noted to take the larger values and norms of Asian continent. One of the cultures here is the growing of Rice paddy as well as making of Banaue Rice Terraces. The region is mainly influenced by the values and norms of other countries such as China and India.

For example, Vietnam is largely influenced by the culture of China while Burma has taken the culture of both India and China. On Arts, the kind practiced in this religion is very unique and does not reflect any other from the neighbor countries. On music, the region has traditional music varying from one cultural division or ethnic parts to the other.

Critical cartography

This is a combination of new practices for mapping as well as theoretical critiques that are grounded in the critical theory. Critical cartography is not the same as academic cartography because the former attempts to link geographical literacy with political power. Critical cartography attempts to give real analysis and identify major attributes of a map that is taken for granted. The aim is for understanding the maps more and gain added knowledge.

This kind of knowledge is applicable in Southeast Asia. The map of this region gives some sense of complexities, especially in considering that the area is inhabited by not one country.

In understanding this kind of knowledge, people are therefore in positions to put some questions to relevant authorities for the sake of knowing the kind of integration that has been used in the area. Since the area seems to have commonalities in major areas such as cultures and music, it would be good to understand the dynamics of its maps which in itself is complex.

Works Cited

Abbott, Jason. Developmentalism and dependency in Southeast Asia: The case of the automotive industry. New York: Taylor & Francis, Inc, 2008.Print.

Golden, Nancy. Exploring Mexico with the five themes of geography. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2004. Print.

Halbfass, Wilhelm. Beyond orientalism: The work of Wilhelm Halbfass and its impact on Indian and cross cultural studies. Amsterdam: Rodopi B. V, 1997. Print.

Pulsipher, Lydia M & Alex Pulsipher. World Regional Geography: Global Patterns, Local Lives (Fifth Edition). Gordonsville, VA: WH Freeman, 2011. Print.

Wolters, O. W. History, culture, and region in Southeast Asian perspectives. Ithaca: Cornell University Press Services, 1999. Print.

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