Internationalist Southeast Asias: Coordinating Cross-Border Struggles amid Inter-Imperial Antagonisms


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 9
Thu 09:00-10:30 REC A2.14

Part 2

Session 10
Thu 11:00-12:30 REC A2.14


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Egyptian left internationalist Samir Amin long called for a “Fifth International” to provide an internationalist coordinating mechanism for organizing against capitalism and imperialism, racism and sexism, toward the collective welfare of the world’s peoples and the planet. This panel acts on Amin’s call by assembling scholars, activists, and organizers – many of whom practice more than one of these roles in tandem – to advance the possibility and actuality of internationalism in today’s global Southeast Asias. In the current conjuncture, we can see what Promise Li calls antagonistic cooperation between Biden’s America, Putin’s Russia, Xi’s China, the North Atlantic bloc, and other subimperial powers. Against this backdrop, Southeast Asia and its diasporas have become an active site of internationalist realignment. Prominent configurations include the Milk Tea Alliance, Migrante International, inter-Southeast Asian solidarity for platform workers, struggles against refugee deportations, and more generally, a reimagination of the Bandung spirit from below. These actually existing internationalist configurations, with political imaginaries that tend to be left-adjacent more than explicitly leftist, affirm the promise of combining uneven Southeast Asian leftist praxes across national borders - articulating struggles from industrial labor to agrarian dispossession, from gender oppression to environmental degradation. The historical and material legacy of the European metropole also beckons. The imperial metropole long nourished anti-imperial struggle among Southeast Asian exiles and dissidents, and today, trans-European networks of Southeast Asian exiles continue to strengthen ongoing struggles in Southeast Asia. Taking seriously Amin’s insistence on the need for a Fifth International, this panel aims not only to clarify, but also advance, the promise of internationalist Southeast Asias from historical and contemporary perspectives.