Professor Danny Unger                                                                                         POLS 670

Thursdays, 6:30-9:10, DuSable 466                                                                        Fall 2009

Office Hours: T,W,Th 2-3;                                                          7537042




Southeast Asian Politics



This is a graduate level introductory course that exposes students to critical debates in the study of politics in Southeast Asia.  The course offers a selective overview of theories and topics in comparative politics.  No specific background is necessary in order to benefit from exposure to the material covered in this course.


All students are expected to participate in class discussions.


During our first meeting on August 27th, we will decide on alternative meeting times for the scheduled class on September 10th.




Course Requirements:


General participation                                                                                                   30

Discussion papers and role as seminar leader                                                             30

-How useful are the key concepts presented in the readings? How are the concepts related to other concepts in the field? What policy or theoretical implications are suggested by the approach used in the reading? Does the reading help identify fruitful areas for future research?

In-class final exam                                                                                                      40

Schedule of Meetings and Readings



August 27: Introduction to some key concepts and assignment of presentations


September 3: “Southeast Asia” (105)


-Erik Martinez Kuhonta, Dan Slater, and Tuong Vu, “Introduction: The Contributions of Southeast Asian Political Studies,” in Kuhonta et al., eds. Southeast Asia in Political Science: Theory, Region, and Qualitative Analysis (Stanford University Press, 2008) 1-29

-Benedict Anderson, “Introduction” in The Specter of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World 1998, 1-20
-Benedict Anderson, “The Idea of Power in Javanese Culture,” in Anderson, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, 1990, 17-77
-Robert Bates, “Area Studies and the Discipline,” PS, June 1997, 166-69
-Chalmers Johnson,  “Preconception vs. Observation,” PS, 170-74
Recommended readings:
-Sheri Berman, “Ideas, Norms and Culture in Political Analysis,” Comparative Politics 33(2), 231-50
-Ira Katznelson and Barry Weingast, eds. Preferences and Situations (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005) chapter one (editors) and eleven (Mahoney)
-Daniel Ziblatt, “Of Course Generalize, but How?” APSA-CP 17(2), 8-11
-Herbert Feith, “History, Theory and Indonesia,” in Benedict Anderson and A. Kahin, eds. Interpreting Indonesian Politics: Thirteen Contributions (Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1982)


September 10: State formation (105)

            Class meeting to be re-scheduled


-Paul Hutchcroft, “Colonial Masters, National Politicos, and Provincial Lords: Central Authority and Local Autonomy in the American Philippines, 1900-1913,” Journal of Asian Studies, 59:2, May 2000, 277-306
-Benedict Anderson, “Old State, New  Society: Indonesia’s New Order,” Journal of Asian Studies, 1983, 477-96
-Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (New York: Verso, 1991) 141-154, 163-206
Recommended readings:

-Clifford Geertz, Negara: The Theater State in Nineteenth-Century Bali (1980)

-Duncan McCargo and Robert H. Taylor, “Politics,” in Mohammed Halib and Tim Huxley, eds. An Introduction to Southeast Asian Studies (1996)

-John T. Sidel, Capital, Coercion and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines (Stanford University Press, 1999), chapters one and seven

-Michael Malley, “Indonesia: The Erosion of State Capacity,” in Robert Rotberg, State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror (2003), 183-218



September 17: The “peasant problem” I (100)


-Barrington Moore, The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966) 14-29, 254-74, 330-40
-Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (Yale University Press, 1968) 72-78, 433-62
-Anek Laothamatas, “A Tale of Two Democracies,” in Robert H. Taylor, ed. The Politics of Elections in SEA (1996) 201-23
Recommended readings:

James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1985) 1-47, 304-50

Ashutosh Varshney, Democracy, Development, and the Countryside (Cambridge University Press, 1994) 1-27


September 24: The “peasant problem” II (125)


-Ruth McVey, “Nationalism, Revolution, and Organization in Indonesian Communism,” in Daniel Lev and McVey eds. Making Indonesia (Cornell University Press, 1996) 96-117
-James Scott, Moral Economy of the Peasant (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1976) 1-34, 193-240
-Tuong Vu, “Contentious Mass Politics in SEA,” SEA in PS: Theory, Region, and Qualitative Analysis (Stanford University Press, 2008) 102-128
Recommended readings:     

-Samuel Popkin, The Rational Peasant (University of California Press, 1979)
-James C.Scott, Seeing Like a State


October 1: Civil society I (90)


-Philip Nord “Introduction” in Nancy Bermeo and Philip Nord, Civil Society before Democracy (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000) xiii-xxxiii
-Bob Edwards and Michael W. Foley, “Civil Society and Social Capital,” in Bob Edwards, Michael W. Foley and Mario Diani, eds. Beyond Toqueville (Tufts University, 2001) 1-14
-Meredith  L. Weiss, “Civil Society and Close Approximations Thereof,” in Kuhonta et al. Southeast Asia in Political Science, 144-70
-Eva-Lotta E. Hedman, “Contesting State and Civil Society: SEA Trajectories,” Modern Asian Studies 35:4 (2001), 921-51
Recommended readings:

-Alison Brysk, “Democratizing Civil Society in Latin America,” Journal of Democracy, July 2000, 151-65
-M. Steven Fish, “Russia’s Fourth Transition,” Journal of Democracy, July 1994, 31-42
-Jan Kubik “Between the State and Networks of ‘Cousins’” in Nancy Bermeo and Philip Nord, Civil Society before Democracy (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000) 181-207

-William A. Galston, “Civil Society and the ‘Art’ of Association,” Journal of Democracy, January 2000, 64-70

October 8: Civil society II (105)


-Lily L. Tsai, Accountability without Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2007) 1-19
-Marc Morje Howard, “The Weakness of Postcommunist Civil Society,” Journal of Democracy, January 2002, 157-69
-Vickie Langohr, “Too Much Civil Society, Too Little Politics: Egypt and Liberalizing Arab Regimes,” Comparative Politics 36(2) 181-203

-Benjamin L.Read, “Introduction: state-linked associational life—illuminating blind spots of existing paradigms,” in Read and Robert Pekkanen, Local Organizations and Urban Governance in East and Southeast Asia: Straddling state and society (New York: Routledge, 2009) 1-26
-Robert Pekkanen, “Japan’s neighborhood associations: membership without advocacy,” in Read and Pekkanen, Local Organizations, 27-57

Recommended readings:

-Bronislaw Geremek, “Civil Society Then and Now,” Journal of Democracy, April 1992, 3-12
-Robert A. Putnam, “Bowling Alone,” Journal of Democracy, January 1995, 65-78
-Muthiah Alagappa, Civil Society and Political Change in Asia (Stanford University Press, 2004) 1-60, 455-508

-Michael W. Foley and Bob Edwards, “The Paradox of Civil Society,” Journal of Democracy, July 1996, 38-52

October 15: Regime types (105)


-Eva Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East,” Comparative Politics 36(2), 2004, 139-57
-John Sidel, “Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy Revisited,” Comparative Politics 40(2), 2008, 127-47

-Michael Bratton and Nicholas Van de Walle, “Neopatrimonial Regimes and Political Transitions in Africa,” World Politics, 46:4, 1994, 453-89
-Paul Hutchcroft and Joel Racamora, “Strong Demands and Weak Institutions: The Origins and Evolution of the Democratic Deficit in the Philippines,” Journal of East Asian Studies 3(2), May-August 2003, 259-92
Recommended readings:

-Thomas Pepinsky, “Crises and Autocratic Breakdowns in Island Southeast Asia,” MPSA, August 2006
-Benedict Anderson, “Cacique Democracy in the Philippines: Origins and Dreams,” New Left Review, no. 169, 1988, 3-33
-Alfred McCoy, “An Anarchy of Families,” in McCoy, ed. An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, 1993)

-Jason Brownlee, Authoritarianism in an Age of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

October 22: Specific regimes (110)


-Harry J. Benda, “Democracy in Indonesia,” in Benedict R. O’G. Anderson, Audrey Kahin, and Daniel S. Lev, eds. Interpreting Indonesian Politics: Thirteen Contributions (Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, 1982)
-Dan Slater, “Iron Cage in an Iron Fist: Authoritarian Institutions and the Personalization of Power in Malaysia,” Comparative Politics, 36:1, October 2003, 81-101
-Benedict Anderson, “Cacique Democracy in the Philippines,” in Vincente L. Rafael, ed. Discrepant Histories: Translocal Essays on Filipino Cultures (Temple University Press, ) 3-47
-Jason Brownlee, “Bound to Rule: Party Institutions and Regime Trajectories in Malaysia and the Philippines,” Journal of East Asian Studies 8, 2008
Recommended readings:
-Thak Chaloemtiarana, Thailand, The Politics of Despotic Paternalism (Silkworm Books, 2007)
-John Linantud, Philippines’ Illiberal Democracy
-William Case, “Malaysia’s Pseudo-Democracy,”
-Michael Kelly Connors, Democracy and National Identity in Thailand (Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2007)

-Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, Contested Democracy and the Left in the Philippines After Marcos (Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 2008)

October 29: Political parties (120)


-Allen Hicken, Building Party Systems in Developing Countries (Cambridge University Press, 2009) 26-46, 116-48
-Allen Hicken. “Parties and Elections” in Kuhonta, eds. Southeast Asia in Political Science, 80-101

-Dan Slater, “Indonesia’s Accountability Trap: Party Cartels and Presidential Power after Democratic Transition” Indonesia, 78, October 2004, 61-92
-Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan, Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives (1967)

-Ufen, Andreas,Political Party and Party System Institutionalisation in Southeast Asia: A Comparison of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand(March 2007). Available at SSRN:
Recommended readings:

-Peter Flora, ed. State Formation, Nation-Building and Mass Politics in Europe (Oxford University Press, 1999)

-Dirk Tomsa, Party Politics and Democratization in Indonesia: Golkar in the Post-Suharto Era (Routledge, 2008)

-Kenneth F. Greene, Why Dominant Parties Lose: Mexico’s Democratization in Comparative Perspective (New York:: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

November 5: Electoral systems (80)


-Donald L. Horowitz, “Electoral Systems: A Primer for Decision Makers,” Journal of Democracy 14, October 2003, 115-27
-Benedict Anderson, “Elections and Participation in Three Southeast Asian Countries,” in Robert H. Taylor, ed. The Politics of Elections in SEA (1996) 12-33
-Benedict J. Tria Kerkvliet, “Contested Meanings of Elections in the Philippines,” in Robert H. Taylor, ed. The Politics of Elections in SEA (1996) 136-63
-Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way, “Elections Without Democracy: The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism,” Comparative Politics 13(2) 2002, 51-65
Recommended readings:

-Frederic C. Schaffer and Frederic Charles Schaffer, eds. Elections for Sale: the Causes and Consequences of Vote Buying 2007

-Rein Taagepera and Matthew S. Shugart, Seats and Votes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989) 1-5, 61-66, 234-37
-Arend Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, chapter eight, chapter sixteen

-Dwight King, Half-Hearted Regime: Electoral Institutions and the Struggle for Democracy in Indonesia (Praeger Publishers, 2003)


November 12: Accountability and Representation (90)


-Bernard Manin, Adam Przeworski, and Susan C. Stokes, “Introduction,” in Przeworski,Stokes and Manin, eds. Democracy, Accountability, and Representation (Cambridge University Press, 1999) 1-54
-Andreas Schedler, “Conceptualizing Accountability,” in Diamond, Plattner, eds. The Self-Restraining State, pp. 13-51


November 19: Gatekeeper development (105)


-Richard Doner, Bryan Ritchie, and Dan Slater, “Systemic Vulnerability and the Origins of Developmental States,” International Organization 59:2 (2005), 327-61
-Paul D. Hutchcroft, “Oligarchs and Cronies in the Philippine States: The Politics of Patrimonial Plunder,” World Politics 43:3, (April 1991) 414-50
-Ruth McVey, “The Materialization of the Southeast Asian Entrepreneur,” in McVey, ed. Southeast Asian Capitalists 1993, 7-33
Recommended readings:

-Ruth McVey, “Of Greed and Violence and Other Signs of Progress,” in McVey, ed. Money and Power in Provincial Thailand (2000) 1-29
-Kanishka Jayasuriya, “Embedded mercantilism and open regionalism: the crisis of a regional political project,” Third World Quarterly 24:2, 2003, 339-355
-Andrew MacIntyre, “Institutions and Investors: The Politics of the Financial Crisis in SEA,” International Organization 55:1, 2001, 81-122
-Mitchell Bernard and John Ravenhill, “Beyond Product Cycles and Flying Geese,” World Politics 47, January 1995, 171-209

-Martha Nussbaum, Women and Human Development: the Capabilities Approach, 2000
-Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981) 9-23
-Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (1999) 3-11
-Mireya Solis and Saori N. Katada, “Understanding East Asian Cross-Regionalism: An Analytical Framework,” Pacific Affairs, 80:2, Summer 2007, 229-257
-Stephen Hoadley, “Southeast Asian Cross-Regional FTAs: Origins, Motives and Aims,” Pacific Affairs, 80:2, Summer 2007,

December 3: Gatekeeper development II (100)


-John Wong, “Why has Myanmar not Developed like East Asia?” ASEAN Economic Bulletin 13 (3), March 1997, 344-58
-Thomas Pepinsky, “Capital Mobility and Coalitional Politics: Authoritarian Regimes and Economic Adjustment in Southeast Asia,” World Politics 60(3), 438-74

-Richard Doner, The Politics of Uneven Development: Thailand’s Economic Growth in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009) 7-63
Recommended readings:

-Richard Doner and Ansil Ramsay, “Competitive Clientelism and Economic Growth: The Case of Thailand,” in Sylvia Maxfield and Ben Ross Schneider, eds. Business and the State in Developing Countries (Cornell University Press, 1997) 237-76

-Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Asian States, Asian Bankers (Cornell University Press, 2002) 1-27

-Joel S. Migdal, State in Society (Cambridge University Press) 41-96

-Khoo Boo Teik, “Economic Nationalism and its Discontents: Malaysian Political Economy After July 1997” in Richard Robison, Mark Beeson, Kanishka Jayasuriya, Hyuk-Rae Kim, eds. Politics and Markets in the Wake of the Asian Crisis (2000) 212-37
-Richard Stubbs, “War and Economic Development: Export-Oriented Industrialization in East and Southeast Asia,” Comparative Politics 31:3, April 1999, 337-55
-Richard Stubbs, “The Malayan Emergency and the Development of the Malaysian State,” in Paul B. Rich and Richard Stubbs, eds. The Counter-Insurgency State: Guerrilla Warfare and State-Building (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997) 50-71

December 10: Final exam, 6-7:50