Griffith workshop to tackle the decline of democracy in Southeast Asia

Academics from Griffith University and other esteemed institutions will gather for a two-day workshop this month addressing the deterioration of democracy across Southeast Asia.

Led by Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Diego Fossati (of the Griffith Asia Institute and the Centre for Governance and Public Policy), participants will draw from their deep regional knowledge to discuss the extent to which democracy in Southeast Asia has deteriorated in recent years, the key forces driving this development, and the implications for accountability between citizens and politicians.

The group of Australia-based and international experts will canvass areas such as populism, political Islam, civil society, deliberative democracy, democratisation, political parties, social media, and clientelism in addressing its central issues, Dr Fossati (pictured) said.

“We think this is a timely and topical event because of current developments in Southeast Asia,” he said. “In recent years, challenges for democracy in this region appear to have intensified.

“By the account of many observers of the region, the quality of democracy in most Southeast Asian countries has been deteriorating due to factors such as the rise of populist movements, a surge in religious sectarianism, illiberal sentiments, the entrenchment of unaccountable political elites and the failure to attenuate deep-seated economic inequalities.

“In the light of these disruptive trends, the prospects for democracy and accountability in Southeast Asia are receiving renewed scrutiny, and our workshop aims to contribute to this conversation.”

Dr Fossati will be joined by peers such as Associate Professor Marco Bünte (Monash University, Malaysia), Professor James Chin (University of Tasmania), Dr Nicole Curato (University of Canberra), Professor Michele Ford (University of Sydney), Professor Vedi Hadiz (University of Melbourne), Dr Patrick Jory (University of Queensland), Dr Lee Morgenbesser (Griffith University), Associate Professor Bridget Welsh (John Cabot University, Rome) and more.

Each participant will present about an ongoing research project and will receive feedback from their peers. The possibility of the paper contributions being collected into an edited volume or a special issue of an academic journal will also be entertained for interested participants, Dr Fossati said.

“This workshop provides an outstanding opportunity for participants to exchange ideas, disseminate their knowledge, network and identify areas for further collaboration,” he said.

The workshop, Southeast Asia’s Democratic Recession: Understanding Causes and Consequences, will be held from 11-12 December at the Ship Inn Function Space, South Brisbane, and Webb Centre Boardroom, Griffith University South Bank Campus.