Professor John Sidel

Professor John Sidel

Sir Patrick Gillam Chair in International and Comparative Politics

Department of Government

+44 (0)20 7955 6032
Room No
CBG 3.35
Office Hours
Tuesdays 13:30 - 15:30
Connect with me

Key Expertise
Local Politics, Religion and Politics, Nationalism

About me

John T. Sidel is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (Joint appointment with International Relations). Before taking up this post at the LSE in 2004, Professor Sidel taught for ten years at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He received his BA and MA from Yale University (1988) and his PhD from Cornell University (1995).

Research interests

Professor Sidel specializes in the study of Southeast Asia and has four main areas of thematic expertise and interest in the study of politics, as reflected in his research, writing, and teaching:

Local Politics: bosses, caciques, clans, mafias, warlords, and various forms of machine politics and monopolistic pratices impeding democratization at the local level.

Religion and Politics: inter-religious violence, religious persecution, religion and democratization, and various forms of mobilization in the name of Islam.

Nationalism and Transnational Forces: the role of transnational ideological currents and social movements, diasporic communities, and international conflicts and conjunctures, in the making of 'nationalist' revolutions.

Advocacy Campaigns: the role of coalitions in advocacy campaigns and activist networks in promoting policy reforms and political change in developing countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Professor Sidel is a member of the editorial board of the journals Asian Politics and PolicyAsian SurveyIndonesia and the Malay WorldPacific Affairs, and South East Asia Research, and the co-editor of the Contemporary Issues in the Asia Pacific book series at Stanford University Press. You can find further information about the Series at SUP and at the East-West Center, which sponsors the Series.

Teaching responsibilities

  • GV4C9: Democratization and its Discontents in Southeast Asia
  • GV4D3: Local Power in an Era of Globalization, Democratization, and Decentralization
  • IR461: Islam in International Relations: From Al-Andalus to Afghanistan


Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia
(Cornell University Press, 2006)

In October 2002 a bomb blast in a Balinese nightclub killed more than two hundred people, many of them young Australian tourists. This event and subsequent attacks on foreign targets in Bali and Jakarta in 2003, 2004, and 2005 brought Indonesia into the global media spotlight as a site of Islamist terrorist violence. Yet the complexities of political and religious struggles in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, remain little known and poorly understood in the West.

In Riots, Pogroms, Jihad, John T. Sidel situates these terrorist bombings and other "jihadist" activities in Indonesia against the backdrop of earlier episodes of religious violence in the country, including religious riots in provincial towns and cities in 1995-1997, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, and interreligious pogroms in 1999-2001. Sidel's close account of these episodes of religious violence in Indonesia draws on a wide range of documentary, ethnographic, and journalistic materials. Sidel chronicles these episodes of violence and explains the overall pattern of change in religious violence over a ten-year period in terms of the broader discursive, political, and sociological contexts in which they unfolded.

Successive shifts in the incidence of violence-its forms, locations, targets, perpetrators, mobilizational processes, and outcomes-correspond, Sidel suggests, to related shifts in the very structures of religious authority and identity in Indonesia during this period. He interprets the most recent "jihadist" violence as a reflection of the post-1998 decline of Islam as a banner for unifying and mobilizing Muslims in Indonesian politics and society. Sidel concludes this book by reflecting on the broader implications of the pattern observed in Indonesia both for understanding Islamic terrorism in particular and for analyzing religious violence in all its varieties.