The main purpose of the Southeast Asia Research Group (SEAREG) is to provide a forum for presenting and discussing the best new research by young social scientists working on Southeast Asian studies. A secondary purpose is to establish a network of scholars in political science and related fields who are working at the forefront of Southeast Asian studies in North America.

The conveners of SEAREG are committed to a model of Southeast Asian studies that emphasizes the complementarity of discipline, method, and area knowledge. SEAREG seeks to promote research on Southeast Asia that is theoretically informed, analytically sophisticated, and methodologically precise; which is rooted in in one or more Southeast Asian countries (past or present); and which contributes to basic debates in contemporary political science and allied disciplines.