UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "ASEAS Conference: Southeast Asia Meets Global Challenges" [Leeds, 5-7 September 2018]


ASEAS (Association of Southeast Asian Studies) facilitates cooperation between scholars, institutions and research programmes in Southeast Asian studies both within the UK and with other countries.

The Association was established in 1969 and has members from dozens of different universities and over 15 countries, including academics, postgraduate researchers and others who are just interested in Southeast Asia.


15:30-17:30, 5 September 2018, PGG 4, University of Leeds

How to Rule with an Iron Fist: Legitimating Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia
Convenor: Erwin S. Fernandez, House of Pangasinan Studies

Authoritarianism has been a political feature of many governments in Southeast Asia. After World War II the region undertook decolonization and these countries, one after the other, gained independence. ’Strongman rule’ reigned in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore while brutal military dictatorships ruled in Burma and Thailand. In former Indochina, communist regimes swayed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In recent years, authoritarian longing and lure have pervaded the atmosphere in some Southeast Asian countries even in countries that transitioned to democracy. In order to legitimate their authoritarian rule, state elites have used a variety of ways to justify their regimes.

This panel seeks to understand and examine the ideologies, mechanisms, means and processes – or the Althusserian ideological state apparatuses – that state actors in Southeast Asia deploy to rationalize and perpetuate their either one-man or one-party rule.


  • 'Martial Law and the Filipino Intellectuals: Defending and Justifying the New Order' by Erwin S Fernandez
  • 'Recalling hydraulic despotism: Hun Sen’s Cambodia and the re-emergence of staunch authoritarianism' by David J.H. Blake
  • 'Political trust in authoritarian settings: Forms, functions, and roles in governance' by Kasira Cheeppensook (CSDS)
  • 'How an authoritarian regime crafted good women: the case of women volunteers in Indonesia' by Vita Febriany
  • 'Political Learning and Military Rule in Thailand: From the 'Wasted' 2006 Coup to the NCPO Regime' by Panuwat Panduprasert

15:30-17:30, 5 September 2018, SED 5, University of Leeds

Beyond Water Terror: Everyday Life, Labour and Mobility amidst Southeast Asia’s Changing Hydrology
Convenor: Dr Laurie Parsons, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London

As the likelihood of conflicts over water increases, global scholarship is increasingly attentive to the politics of this vital resource. Parts of the world are growing drier in the face of climate change and population growth, leading the threat of terror and war to become heightened in those areas where states compete most strongly for scarce resources. Elsewhere, more than three billion people are threatened by catastrophic flooding with the potential to fuel existing armed conflicts. Indeed, so seriously are world leaders taking the issue, that water crises were ranked as one of the five greatest threats facing the world at the 2018 World Economic Forum.

Yet this narrative of international conflict masks a more pernicious reality. Currently, two thirds of the global population lack adequate water supplies at least one month per year and half a billion face severe water scarcity all year round. At the same time, others face an opposite threat, as changing rainfall patterns lead inland flooding to become more intense and less predictable, leading to shifting livelihoods, migration and poverty.

The struggles that arise show that water conflict is not confined to the scale of nations, but acts also as an everyday axis of inequality, intertwined in social and economic systems. As Southeast Asian nations face water growing water shortages, this ticking time bomb is driving ever more people into precarious labour, bondage, and modern slavery across the region. This panel seeks to explore this nexus, exploring how the everyday politics of water are becoming embedded in the life and labour of the region.


  • 'The Spatial Politics of Water in Cambodia: Marginality, Precarity, Power' by Laurie Parsons
  • 'Developing mobile political ecology in Southeast Asia: insights from flood contexts' by Carl Middleton (CSDS) & Rebecca Elmhirst
  • 'The Everyday Politics of Hydrological Engineering and the Geography of Death Under the Khmer Rouge' by James A. Tyner
  • 'Shaping the Water and Grabbing the Land: The Elite Land Grabbing in Cambodian Urban Poor Communities' by Sopheak Chann
  • 'Livelihood as a Measure of Vulnerability in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda' by Pauline Eadie

11:00-12:30, 6 September 2018, PGG 1, University of Leeds

Is There a ‘Leeds School’ of Southeast Asian Political Studies? - Thailand: Politics And Public Policy
Convenor: Professor Duncan McCargo, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

Over the past quarter century, more than 25 students have successfully completed Leeds PhDs  on  different  aspects  over  Southeast  Asia’s  politics,  international  relations  and development. Many of these theses were co-supervised or internally examined by Duncan McCargo, David Beetham, Ricardo Blaug, Gordon Crawford, Joern Dosch, Caroline Dyer, Hugh Dyer, Christine Harlen, Mike Parnwell, Ruth Pearson, Adam Tyson and Polly Wilding. This panel asks whether these doctoral theses, along with subsequent publications by their authors, work done by Leeds academics, and work published by students who studied for MAs at Leeds before pursuing doctorates elsewhere, amount to a ‘Leeds School’ of Southeast Asian political studies? Arguably, the Leeds School is characterised by an emphasis on empirical fieldwork, the use of qualitative methods including ethnographic approaches, and an emphasis on developing clear, comparative concepts rather than theorising for its own sake.


  • 'Thailand’s Authoritarianism' by Naruemon Thabchumpon (CSDS)
  • 'Urban Development and Autocracy in Thailand' by Pechladda Pechpakdee
  • 'Cultural Limitations on Talented Millennials in the Thai Bureaucratic Arena' by Krittinan Anantakoon & Pad Lavankura
  • 'The Evolution of Vote-Canvasser Networks in Thailand' by Anyarat Chattharakul

14:00-16:00, 7 September 2018, School of Politics & International Studies, University of Leeds

Roundtable on Cambodia’s Elections
Convenor: Professor Duncan McCargo, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

Discussants: Naruemon Thabchumpon (CSDS), Sophal Ear, and Vathana Seourn

Cambodia’s scheduled July 2018 elections were widely expected to bring about a significant realignment in the country’s politics, given the strong performance of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in both the 2013 general election and the June 2017 commune council elections. However, the recent court-imposed closure of the CNRP leaves the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) with no significant challenger in the 2018 elections; meanwhile a recent crackdown on civil society and media organisations which has included the shutdown of the English-language Cambodia Daily has had a chilling effect on political life in the country. This roundtable will discuss the latest political situation in Cambodia, with respect to electoral politics, the growing role of the courts, the sphere of civil society and the salience of both mainstream and social media.


Conference details are available here.