Seminars

Year:

Title Date & Time
A New Southeast Asian Tourism? Belts, Shorts, Roads and Cruise Liners
Prof John Connell

Short Bio:

John Connell is Professor of Human Geography in the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. His research interests range from migration and decolonisation, to festivals (with particular reference to Elvis Presley) and medical tourism. He has written more than 300 articles and over 20 books including Music and Tourism. On the Road Again (with C. Gibson) and Tourism at the Grassroots. Villagers and Visitors in the Asia-Pacific (with B. Rugendyke). He has just completed a book, The Ends of Empire, on ‘the last colonies’ in the present century. When he is not engaged in these loosely academic activities he is an enthusiastic participant in Parkrun and can be found at strange hours of the night passionately supporting Leeds United. 

9 Mar 2020 (Mon)
Conceptualizing the Varieties of Chinese Influence in Mainland Southeast Asia
Dr Enze Han

Abstract:

International relations scholarship and the popular media tend to portray China as a great power with hegemonic designs for Southeast Asia. Yet there is no such a great power like China that is still a developing country with variegated levels of internal development and chunks of population still live in relative poverty. Defining China as an unconventional great power, this paper examines the varieties of Chinese interactions/influences in Southeast Asia in their everyday forms, ranging from Chinese tourists/tourism operations in Thailand, cross-border trade of agricultural products with Myanmar, to casinos and Chinese gangs in Cambodia. It argues that the responses to the Chinese presence in Southeast Asia also differ from the typical global south/north division that previous and other contemporary great powers tend to be associated with.

 

Short Bio:

Dr. Enze Han is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia, and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. Previously he was Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. His research has been supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and British Council/Newton Fund. During 2015-2016, he was a Friends Founders' Circle Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. He is the author of Asymmetrical Neighbours: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, 2019), and Contestation and Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has also published numerous articles in World Development, The China Quarterly, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Pacific Review, Security Studies, Conflict Management and Peace ScienceChinese Journal of International Politics, among others.   

2 Mar 2020 (Mon)
From Democratization to Autocratization? Trends and Patterns in Myanmar
Prof Marco Bünte

Abstract:

After the first general elections 2015, hopes were high both inside and outside the country that Myanmar could further reform the quasi-military regime and embark on a genuine democratisation. Five years later, the overall picture looks pretty bleak. The past five years were marked not only by a lack of further deep-going political reforms and a lacklustre peace process but also by a brutal ethnic-cleansing campaign by the Burmese army against Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state as well as a the general deterioration of political freedoms and civil rights. It seems that Myanmar follows the worldwide trend towards autocratization. 


Short Bio:

Marco Bünte is Professor of Political Science at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. His research focusses on comparative democratisation, civil-military relations, social movements and Asian politics. He has published extensively on Southeast Asian politics (particularly on Myanmar and Indonesia). His work appeared in Armed Forces&Society, Contemporary Politics, Journal of Contemporary Asia, amongst others. He is also the co-editor of Politics and Constitutions in Southeast Asia (Routledge 2017, with B. Dressel) and The Crisis of Democratic Governance in Southeast Asai (2011, with Aurel Croissant). 

24 Feb 2020 (Mon)
[Seminar cancelled] Conceptualizing the Varieties of Chinese Influence in Mainland Southeast Asia
Dr Enze Han

Abstract:

International relations scholarship and the popular media tend to portray China as a great power with hegemonic designs for Southeast Asia. Yet there is no such a great power like China that is still a developing country with variegated levels of internal development and chunks of population still live in relative poverty. Defining China as an unconventional great power, this paper examines the varieties of Chinese interactions/influences in Southeast Asia in their everyday forms, ranging from Chinese tourists/tourism operations in Thailand, cross-border trade of agricultural products with Myanmar, to casinos and Chinese gangs in Cambodia. It argues that the responses to the Chinese presence in Southeast Asia also differ from the typical global south/north division that previous and other contemporary great powers tend to be associated with.

 

Short Bio:

Dr. Enze Han is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia, and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. Previously he was Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. His research has been supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and British Council/Newton Fund. During 2015-2016, he was a Friends Founders' Circle Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. He is the author of Asymmetrical Neighbours: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, 2019), and Contestation and Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China (Oxford University Press, 2013). He has also published numerous articles in World Development, The China Quarterly, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Pacific Review, Security Studies, Conflict Management and Peace ScienceChinese Journal of International Politics, among others.   

 

25 Nov 2019 (Mon)
[Rescheduled seminar CANCELLED today]
Indonesia’s 2019 Elections and the Rise of Political Polarisation - Seminar on 11 Nov 2019 is cancelled
Dr Ian Wilson

Abstract: 

Indonesia’s 2019 presidential elections were perceived by many in the country as marked by increasing polarisation around issues of identity. The parameters of polarisation varied in their socioreligious and geographic foundation, but generally coalesced around constructions of an Indonesian nationalist pluralism vs majoritarian Islamism.

The presidential contender, former general Prabowo Subianto, established an alliance with a range of hardline Islamist groups and militias who framed the election as a struggle for defending the integrity of the faith from a government hostile to Islam. The incumbent, President Joko Widodo, seeking to neutralise religiously framed attacks, deepened his ties with Indonesia’s biggest Islamic organisation, Nahdatul Ulama. This included his choice of vice-presidential running mate, the conservative religious scholar Ma’aruf Amin.

Each sought to use identity as a mode of mobilising electoral support, producing deep antagonistic societal divisions with an overall result that politics has become more conservative and intolerant. The rapid post-election reconciliation between Prabowo and Jokowi and their respective party coalitions off-sided many supporters, revealing that while polarisation was acutely felt at the societal level, for elites it was simply a strategy in inter-oligarchic conflicts.

Outlining the elections and its immediate aftermath, this presentation will consider the social and political implications of identity-based populist electoral contestation in the world’s largest Muslim majority democracy.

 

Short Bio:

Ian Wilson is a senior lecturer in Politics and Security Studies and is a Research Fellow at the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University. His research interests focus upon contemporary Indonesian politics and society, in particular political violence, vigilantism and the political economy of organised crime as well as urban social movements. He has published widely in both English and Indonesian in publications such as Critical Asian Studies and New Mandala and is the author of The Politics of Protection Rackets in Post-New Order Indonesia.

12 Nov 2019 (Tue)
Malaysia's New Political Economy?
Politics, Business and Power Consolidation
Prof Edmund Terence Gomez

Abstract:

Following an unexpected regime change in Malaysia after its 14th General Elections in May 2018, Pakatan Harapan was expected to dismantle a well-entrenched government-business institutional framework created through government-linked companies (GLCs) to practice the politics of patronage. The creation of this vast GLC network was justified on the grounds that it facilitated implementation of the Bumiputera policy, introduced to help the poor and equitably redistribute wealth. However, sweeping GLCs reforms have not occurred, while concerns have emerged that this enterprise-based framework is being reconstituted to create new political-business nexuses as well as continue the practice of political patronage to muster broad-based Bumiputera support.

This continuity of old politics in ‘New Malaysia’ raises an important question: what happens in terms of dismantling rent-seeking and patronage, when a new regime comprises politicians who see this framework as a mechanism to consolidate power? Since a structural framework that allowed politicians to exploit GLCs in various ways to serve vested political and economic interests remains in place, another key question has emerged. What are the possible political outcomes in this situation, in which elites in the new regime struggle to consolidate their power bases? This lecture will review these new forms of government–business networks and how they now function to provide insights to provide into Malaysia’s political economy one year after the fall of authoritarian rule.

 

Short Bio:

Edmund Terence Gomez is Professor of Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya.  He specializes in state-market relations and the linkages between politics, policies and enterprise development. He has held appointments at the University of Leeds (UK) and Murdoch University (Australia) and served as Visiting Professor at Kobe University, Japan and at the Universities of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and California (San Diego). Between 2005 and 2008, he served as Research Coordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), in Geneva, Switzerland.

His book publications include Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage and Profits (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Political Business in East Asia (Routledge, 2002), The State of Malaysia: Ethnicity, Equity and Reform (Routledge, 2004), The Politics of Resource Extraction: Indigenous Peoples, Multinational Corporations and the State (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012), The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Horizontal Inequalities and Social Justice (National University of Singapore Press, 2013), and Minister of Finance Incorporated: Ownership and Control of Corporate Malaysia (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017).

 

Please click here for youtube video of the seminar.

 

21 Oct 2019 (Mon)
Are Singapore’s Finest Years Coming To An End? The Prospects and Limits of Authoritarian Pragmatism
Prof Kenneth Paul Tan

Abstract:

Contemporary Singapore is simultaneously a small post-colonial, multicultural nation-state and a cosmopolitan global city. In spite of Singapore's historically unique qualities, governments around the world have been paying a lot of attention to its experience of successful development and governance. China’s leaders, for example, have been interested not only in Singapore’s innovative policies, but also in the adaptive durability of Singapore-style authoritarianism, which appears to have resisted political liberalisation trends described in various accounts of modernisation theory. Instead, Singapore-style authoritarianism seems to be able to adapt to changing internal and external circumstances, tiding over, sometimes even thriving on, their attendant contradictions and tensions. Pragmatism, now enshrined as its governance principle (ironically, even its ideology), is usually offered as an explanation for this adaptive quality. But the once malleable system has hardened, and there are obvious cracks in it. In this talk, Kenneth Paul Tan discusses the near-future of Singapore’s authoritarian pragmatism and asks whether its most successful years are coming to an end.
 

Short Bio: 

Kenneth Paul TAN is an Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where he has taught since 2007 and served as its fourth Vice Dean for Academic Affairs from 2013 to 2017. From 2000 to 2007, he taught at the NUS’s University Scholars Programme and Political Science Department. Since 2000, he has received numerous teaching awards, including in 2009 the Outstanding Educator Award, the most prestigious teaching honour bestowed by the University. In 2012, he was elected Chair of the NUS Teaching Academy, where he has been a Fellow since it was established in 2009. The central pre-occupation of his research has been to challenge conventional theorizations and formulations of liberalization by passing them through the contemporary lens of the Singapore experience. His work can be described as a critical, qualitative, and interpretive analysis of the tensions that emerge from Singapore’s transition from a developmental state to a neoliberal global city, explored through various interconnected dimensions. He has published in leading international journals. His books include Singapore: Identity, Brand, Power (Cambridge University Press), Governing Global-City Singapore: Legacies And Futures After Lee Kuan Yew (Routledge, 2017), Cinema and Television in Singapore: Resistance in One Dimension (Brill, 2008), and Renaissance Singapore? Economy, Culture, and Politics (NUS Press, 2007). He has held visiting fellowships at the Australian National University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Georgetown University (on a Fulbright Fellowship), Harvard University, Sciences Po, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. In 1995, he received a Lee Kuan Yew Postgraduate Scholarship to read for a Ph.D. in social and political sciences at the University of Cambridge, which he completed in 2000. In 1994, he obtained a First Class Honours degree in the Joint School of Economics and Politics at the University of Bristol on a Public Service Commission Overseas Merit (Open) Scholarship. He is a member of the National Arts Council (Singapore)’s Arts Advisory Panel and the National Museum of Singapore’s Advisory Board. He chairs the Board of Directors of theatre company The Necessary Stage (Singapore). He was the founding chair of the Asian Film Archive’s Board of Directors from 2005 to 2017. He served on the committee of Our Singapore Conversation, a year-long national-level public engagement exercise that began in 2012. He is a trained musician and an enthusiastic runner who has travelled to a number of cities to run marathons.

 

Please click here for youtube video of the seminar.

23 Sep 2019 (Mon)