Southeast Asia's storied past extends more than two millennia. For most of this period, the societies of Southeast Asia have participated in transcontinental civilizational networks and have been noted for their ability to selectively appropriate and adapt the various external influences encountered. This has contributed towards Southeast Asia's emergence as an intriguing cultural matrix that presently occupies over four and a half million square kilometers straddling the Eurasian landmass and the Malay Archipelago.
Today, Southeast Asia is home to more than half a billion people who manifest a substantial diversity of ethnicity, polity, language, religion and sub-culture. Southeast Asia also boasts a vibrant economy with a GDP exceeding US $1billion in 2006 and steady annual growth, besides being the site of several thriving national economies.
The Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia brings together two vibrant research centers: the National University of Singapore and Stanford University. The support of infrastructures for research at both universities -- the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS and the Southeast Asia Program (SEAP) in the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) at Stanford -- promises that this synergistic collaboration will do much to raise the visibility, extent, and quality of scholarship on contemporary Southeast Asia.