GV4C9      Half Unit
Globalization and Democratization in Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof John Sidel


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Global Politics and MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course is capped at one group. The deadline for applications is 17:00 on Tuesday 1 October 2019. You will be informed of the outcome by 17:00 on Wednesday 2 October 2019.

Course content

This course focuses on the diverse processes of globalization and democratization observed in Southeast Asia over the past few decades. Special attention is paid to democracy in Indonesia and the Philippines, regression from democracy to military rule in Thailand, recent movements towards democracy in Myanmar, and 'creeping pluralism' and 'creeping constitutionalism' in Vietnam. The course examines important trends and developments accompanying globalization and democratization in the region - in government-business relations, in local politics, in civil society, in religious practices, in inter-communal relations, and in the organization and use of violence in politics. Throughout the course, the countries examined are treated as cases suitable for analysis and comparison in the light of the broader Comparative Politics and Global Politics literatures on globalization and democratization.

The course begins by situating globalization and democratization in Southeast Asia against a comparative historical and sociological backdrop, paying close attention to the variegated patterns of class, state, and religious formation in the region. The course compares processes and patterns of globalization and democratization across the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar. Lectures, readings, and seminar discussions then turn to key trends accompanying democratization in Southeast Asia. The trends examined include campaigns against 'corruption' and in support of 'the rule of law' and 'good governance'; social movements and struggles for popular empowerment; the democratization of religious practices and institutions; religious violence, and separatist mobilization. These trends are treated through comparative analysis of different cases within Southeast Asia and in the light of relevant theoretical literatures drawn from Comparative Politics and Global Politics.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the MT for complementary structured learning activities.

Formative coursework

One non-assessed 1,000 word essay.

Indicative reading

Martin van Bruinessen (ed.), Contemporary Developments in Indonesian Islam: Explaining the “Conservative Turn” (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2013); Nicole Curato (ed.), A Duterte Reader: Critical Essays on Rodrigo Duterte's Early Presidency (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 2017); Renaud Egreteau, Caretaking Democratization: The Military and Political Change in Myanmar (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Federico Ferrara, The Political Development of Modern Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Michele Ford and Thomas B. Pepinsky (eds.), Beyond Oligarchy: Wealth, Power, and Contemporary Indonesian Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Southeast Asia Program 2014); Eva-Lotta E. Hedman, In the Name of Civil Society: From Free Election Movements to People Power in the Philippines (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2006); Annette Miae Kim, Learning to Be Capitalists: Entrepreneurs in Vietnam’s Transition Economy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008);  Hue-Tam Ho Tai and Mark Sidel (eds.), State, Society and the Market in Contemporary Vietnam (London: Routledge, 2013).


Exam (50%, duration: 2 hours) in the January exam period.
Essay (50%, 3000 words).

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2018/19: 15

Average class size 2018/19: 15

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills