GV4C9      Half Unit
Globalization and Democratization in Southeast Asia

This information is for the 2021/22 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 1 group.

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 and  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 patterns of globalization and democratization across the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Lectures, readings, and seminar discussions then turn to key trends accompanying globalization and democratization in Southeast Asia. The trends examined include populist challenges to established power structures; 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.


Ten 1-hour lectures, all recorded and accessible online, plus nine 1.5-hour seminar sessions to discuss the readings in the Michaelmas Term. The introductory lecture in Week 1 will be two hours in length and set the stage for the first seminar session in Week 2, and the final lecture will include an exam revision session.

Seminars may be run through a combination of online and/or on-campus provision as circumstances permit and require.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the MT.

Formative coursework

One non-assessed 1500-word essay.

Indicative reading

Teri L. Caraway and Michele Ford, Labor and Politics in Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020); 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); Benedict J. Tria Kervliet, Speaking Out in Vietnam: Public Political Criticism in a Communist Party-Ruled Nation (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019); Wataru Kusaka, Moral Politics in the Philippines: Inequality, Democracy, and the Urban Poor (Singapore: NUS Press, 2017); Michael J. Montesano, Terence Chong, and Mark Heng (eds.), After the Coup: The National Council for Peace and Order Era and the Future of Thailand (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2018);  Thomas Power and Eve Warburton (eds.), Democracy in Indonesia: From Stagnation to Regression? (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2020); Francis Wade, Myanmar’s Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim ‘Other’ (London: Zed Books, 2017).


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 6.7
Merit 84.4
Pass 6.7
Fail 2.2

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: 16

Average class size 2020/21: 7

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills