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Mainland Southeast Asia’s Regional Integration and Ethnic Minority Communities

  • Scott Hipsher
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Abstract

The countries and regions of Mainland Southeast Asia (SEA) are linked together through their membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Yet the level of economic integration and political cooperation in the region remain relatively low. Mainland SEA has seen significant improvements in the average standard of living, but substantial levels of poverty remain in the region. The region is very ethnically diverse, and many ethnic minority communities, especially those living in remote mountainous regions, have not benefitted from economic growth to the same extent as have ethnic majority communities. While many ethnic minority communities throughout the region have shown resistance to accepting government programs designed to force conforming to the culture norms of the majority populations, when presented opportunities to engage in economic activities on their own terms linking the communities to global trading networks, the communities have willingly engaged in these non-traditional economic activities. As many of the people in these communities live in areas where manufacturing on a large scale is not feasible, tourism offers opportunities to engage in global economic activities, as employees or as microentrepreneurs, without having to abandon their cultural heritage or move to new locations.

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott Hipsher
    • 1
  1. 1.Webster University ThailandBangkokThailand

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