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Top down or bottom up? Politics and Society in Thailand and Indonesia

November 7, 2019 @ 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

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Weatherhead East Asian Institute Event


Please join us for a lecture with:

Alex Arifianto, Research Fellow, Indonesia Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Nanyang Technological University – Singapore


Christopher Ankersen, Clinical Associate Professor

NYU Center for Global Affairs 


Moderated by:

Amy Freedman, Department Chair and Professor of Political Science and International Studies

Long Island University Post 


This panel discussion will look at the broad question of whether changes in society are happening as a result of political manipulation from the top; or because of substantive changes within culture, values and beliefs.


Dr. Arifianto’s talk, titled “From Identity Politics to New Sectarianization? Political Islam and the 2019 Indonesian Election”, will look at the 2019 Indonesian elections and ask if the polarization and divisiveness is a new and lasting feature of Indonesian society, or if it is a function of specific electoral dynamics unique to these candidates and this moment in time.


Professor Ankersen’s talk, titled “Culture in Action: The Case of Contemporary Thai Politics”, will examine the cultural images being used to construct oppressive strictures in contemporary Thai politics and explore whether these structures are manifestations of long-standing cultural norms or if they are being manipulated from elites for regime survival. 


About Speakers:

Alexander R. Arifianto is a Research Fellow with the Indonesia Programme, Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research interest is political Islam and Islamic movements in Indonesia, particularly Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah, and new Islamist movements such as Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). His articles have appeared in refereed journals such as Asia Policy (forthcoming), Trans-National and Regional Studies of Southeast Asia (TRaNS), Asian Security, Asian Politics and Policy, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and Journal of Southeast Asian Economies (formerly ASEAN Economic Bulletin). In addition, he also has published policy-oriented articles related to Indonesian politics in online magazines and blogs such as The Diplomat, The Conversation, New Mandala (Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University), Order from Chaos (The Brookings Institution), and The Strategist (Australian Strategic Policy Institute).


Dr. Christopher Ankersen is Clinical Associate Professor at the Center for Global Affairs, where he teaches in the Transnational Security concentration. Prior to joining NYU, Christopher was the Security Advisor for the United Nations system in Thailand (2012-2017). Previously, he held positions at the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (2010-2012); the UN Offices in Geneva (2007-2010) and Vienna (2006-2007); and with the Department of Safety and Security in New York, where he was Desk Officer for Iraq (2005-2006).

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Ankersen was a Ralf Dahrendorf Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has taught at the LSE, the London Centre for International Relations, King’s College London, Carleton University, and the Royal Military College of Canada and has lectured at staff colleges in Canada, Australia, and Denmark. From 2000 to 2005, he acted as a policy and strategy consultant to militaries, governments and private firms in the UK and Canada. From 1988 to 2000, Dr. Ankersen was an officer in the Canadian Forces, serving in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, including on overseas missions with the UN and NATO.

Dr. Ankersen is a member of the Regional Consultative Group for Asia and the Pacific on Civil-Military Coordination in Disaster Relief; a Senior Research Fellow at the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG), Faculty of Law, Thammasat University, Thailand; and a Senior Fellow at the Canadian International Council. He currently serves as an associate editor with the journal International Politics Reviews. Dr. Ankersen is co-founder of the NYU Project on Armed Forces and Society.

His research interests include civil military relations, strategic studies, international security, and crisis/disaster response. He is particularly interested in the geopolitics and transnational security issues of Southeast Asia.

Christopher Ankersen holds a BA (Hons) in International Politics and History from Royal Roads Military College (Canada) and an MSc and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.                                                                                


This is a Weatherhead East Asian Lectures and Panels event.

No registration required.



November 07, 2019

2:30 PM – 4:00 PM



International Affairs Building, Room 918

420 West 118th Street


For press inquiries, please contact Ariana King ak4364@columbia.edu.


November 7, 2019
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
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