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Title chapter: Reframing the ASEAN discourse by way of participatory photography: The Manila pilot project
Author: Kristian Jeff Cortez Agustin
Keywords: Southeast Asia, regional identity, participation, photography, photovoice
Abstract: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is known for its official photographs, taken during its annual summits and regular meetings. Since its founding 50 years ago, the 10-country bloc has invested in community- and identity-building by promoting its vision of a regional identity that is common or unique to Southeast Asians. In the last 10 years, three big surveys have been conducted to account for the public perception and recognition of ASEAN integration; however, what the data merely show is the lack of agreement and clarity among ordinary ASEAN citizens regarding the notion of "regional identity". Through participatory photography, this visual essay aims to put into perspective what Southeast Asian locals might feel about this issue, starting with a pilot project conducted in Manila.From November 2016 to April 2017, a total of 12 participants participated in the Manila pilot project by taking photographs and taking part in several workshops for the purpose of critically reflecting on their "ASEAN identity". Collectively, their photographs serve as a testament to how participation in the region-building efforts of the ASEAN is as relevant and valuable as the official discourse itself. Select photographs are featured in this visual essay to demonstrate how the participants themselves found their own voice by way of collaborating and engaging in what Paulo Freire called "we think".
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