Joel Chong

Joel Chong

PhD Candidate

Department of Government

Connect with me

English, Mandarin
Key Expertise
State-society Relations, Religion and Politics, Nationalism

About me

Thesis: 'Disenchanting the Divine'

State management of religion, while not an entirely modern phenomenon, profoundly expanded in scope and sophistication under the auspices of a thoroughly modern condition – bureaucratisation. This comparative study of Thailand’s Sangha and Turkey’s Diyanet examines the dialectical process through which religious bureaucracies are produced – firstly, a top-down study of bureaucratising mechanisms; and secondly, a bottom-up examination of the limits of bureaucratisation. Given that religious bureaucracies are seldom neutral spaces, this study will also discuss how the production and consolidation of such entities invariably entail the fusing of state and religion, straddle the secular and divine, and sit at the intersection where notions of state formation, national identity, and modernity criss-cross and entangle.

Research interests

  • State-society relations
  • Religion and politics
  • Nationalism
  • Identity politics
  • Southeast Asian politics

Selected publications

“Materialising the Nation: Envisioning a Post-Cultural Nationhood.” In Global Nationalism: Ideas, Movements and Dynamics in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Pablo de Orellana and Nicholas Michelsen. World Scientific, 2022. URL: