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CRISEA got off to an enthusiastic start with a Kick-Off Meeting held in Chiang Mai on 2nd and 3rd December 2017. The kick off meeting saw CRISEA’s Scientific Coordinator, Dr Jacques P. Leider, outline the project’s research agenda focusing on the five arenas where regional forces in Southeast Asia compete: the environment, the economy, the State, the identity of SEA’s peoples, and the Region.

Project Manager, Ms Elisabeth Lacroix, explained the rigorous accounting and reporting procedures required for this Horizon 2020 project. For the Work Package Leaders and Co-Leaders this was an opportunity to engage with new members of their research teams and to establish their work schedules and division of labour in anticipation of the first Research Workshop planned for March 2018.

Dr Medelina Hendytio and Ms Christine Susanna Tjhin, from CRISEA’s Indonesian partner, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta responsible for the Dissemination Work Package, presented the structure of the web site to the participants. Dissemination was a major topic discussed during the first CRISEA Steering Committee meeting held previous to the kick off meeting.

Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest urban agglomeration was chosen as the site for our first meeting given the centre-periphery problematic that is essential in CRISEA’s research agenda. It also meant the participants could enjoy the setting of the EFEO Library and Research Centre – a major hub for Buddhist and Southeast Asian studies – on the banks of the Ping River. Professor Chayan Vaddhanaphuti is the University of Chiang Mai’s representative in CRISEA and his outstanding research groundwork in a previous EU-funded project, SEATIDE, has led to the environment being a major concern in CRISEA’s research agenda.

Following the Chiang Mai meeting, an Ethics Board was established in January 2018 comprising Professor Paulo Castro Seixas (Institute of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lisbon), chair, Dr Andrée Feillard (Centre de l’Asie du Sud-est, EHESS, Paris) and Professor Tim Harper (Faculty of History, University of Cambridge).