- Class Number 4170
- Term Code 3230
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Mode of Delivery In-Person and Online
- Dr Sally White
- Dr Sally White
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 21/02/2022
- Class End Date 27/05/2022
- Census Date 31/03/2022
- Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
Asian politics is diverse and rapidly changing. Many different types of political system can be found in Asia, including communist regimes, constitutional monarchies, democracies and military-based authoritarian governments. Moreover, seemingly entrenched systems can be overturned, as witnessed in Indonesian’s transition to democracy or Thailand’s return to authoritarianism. The study of Asian politics not only gives insights into recent phenomena in the world’s most rapidly growing region, but also provides a setting for understanding and relating political theory to real world developments. This course has two main purposes. First, it will introduce students to major concepts and theories within political science and secondly will use examples from within Asia to illustrate different political science categories and approaches. During the course, scholars of the politics of South Asia, Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as of transnational and strategic relations within Asia, will discuss particular themes within political science and relate these to their region or topic of specialization. In this way, students will emerge with a broad knowledge of both politics as a discipline and political developments within Asia.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Understand the historical and conceptual foundations of Asian politics, especially North, South and Southeast Asia;
- Evaluate the main schools of political thought and analytical trends relating to Asia;
- Analyse developments in Asian politics drawing on approaches and concepts studied in the course;
- Conduct independent research and demonstrate skills in identifying and critically engaging with appropriate sources; and
- Communicate effectively in both verbal and written forms on political issues in Asia.
This course draws on the combined expertise of academics across the College of Asia and the Pacific. The convenor of the course has studied Southeast Asian politics, most notably Indonesia, for over two decades. All guest lecturers have been selected because their research interests make them specialists in the particular field covered by the lecture topic.
Additional Course Costs
Examination Material or equipment
The examination will be in the form of a take-home exam. Normal access to online and other resources is allowed.
Since some elements of this course may be delivered online, a stable internet connection is recommended. However, students in online tutorials without such a stable connection are given the opportunity to submit written commentaries on the class readings in order to substitute for direct contributions in class.
Required and recommended readings will be available on Wattle so there is no textbook required. The instructor reserves the right to make substitutions in the reading assignments, as appropriate. There may be additional selections to augment the readings for certain sessions.
Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
- written comments
- verbal comments
- feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc
ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
|Summary of Activities
|WEEK 1: Power, Actors and Ideas: Introducing Politics and Political Science (Sally White), 22 February In this lecture, I will provide an overview of the subject matter of the course and discuss issues related to course administration. In addition to the required substantive reading below, please also read the CMS Course Guide so that you can ask informed questions during the lecture and tutorials on anything that remains unclear to you. Please note that for all sessions, the convenor reserves the right to make additions or substitutions in the reading assignments as appropriate. Required Reading: Robert Garner (2016), 'Introduction: The Nature of Politics and Political Analysis', in Introduction to Politics, eds. Robert Garner, Peter Ferdinand and Stephanie Lawson (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1-21. Recommended Reading: Joanna Elfving-Hwang, Theo Mendez and Masafumi Monden (2021), Where is Asia in 'Fortress Australia'?, Asian Currents, 3 November 2021.
|WEEK 2: Democracy and Authoritarianism: Political Systems in Asia and the Pacific (Marcus Mietzner), 1 March The Asia-Pacific region has a wide variety of political systems: from full democracies to autocracies, from monarchies to communist regimes, from electoral authoritarianism to military dictatorships. This lecture explains the various regime types present in Asia and the Pacific, and provides conceptual guidelines on how to classify regimes. It also offers explanatory propositions that link the emergence of certain regime types to specific social, economic or historical factors. Required Reading: Aurel Croissant & Jeffrey Haynes (2020), Democratic Regression in Asia: introduction, Democratization Online. Recommended Reading: Aurel Croissant (2020), Democracies with Preexisting Conditions and the Coronavirus in the Indo-Pacific Region, ASAN Forum.
|WEEK 3: Power Transitions and Processes of Change: Drivers and Outcomes (Marcus Mietzner), 8 March Political systems are rarely static. Democracies can turn into authoritarian regimes, or vice versa, or other forms of political or social transitions can take place. This lecture explores the factors that can trigger political transitions, and discusses why some political systems in Asia and the Pacific are more resistant to change than others. Required Reading: Lee Morgenbesser (2019), Cambodia's Transition to Hegemonic Authoritarianism , Journal of Democracy 30(1): 158-171. Recommended Reading: Andreas Ufen (2020) Opposition in Transition: Pre-electoral Coalitions and the 2018 Electoral Breakthrough in Malaysia, Democratization 27(2): 167-184.
|WEEK 4: Patronage and Clientelism in Asian politics (Paul Hutchcroft), 15 March Not all politics is above board. Corruption, patronage, clientelism, patrimonialism and oligarchic power operate behind the scenes yet can have an immense impact on the ways a political system functions - sometimes much more so than the formal institutions upon which the system is, theoretically, based. This lecture looks at how clientelism operates, and explores what types of political systems are more prone to clientelism. Required Reading: Edward Aspinall, Meredith Weiss Allen Hicken, and Paul Hutchcroft, “Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia,” Chapter One of Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022). Recommended Reading: Prajak Kongkirati (2016), ‘Evolving power of provincial political families in Thailand: Dynastic power, party machine and ideological politics’, South East Asia Research, 24:3, 386-406.
|WEEK 5: When Politics Fails: Is War Thinkable in Asia ? (Hugh White), 22 March In this lecture, Hugh White revisits one of his classic essays from 2008. It explores whether war remains a possibility in the region. For a long time, many people argued that the political and economic interdependency of Asia-Pacific countries rules out a large-scale war in the future. But now it is becoming clear that China’s rise and its escalating rivalry with the United States make a future war not only possible, but even likely. Required Reading: Hugh White, 2008. 'Why War in Asia Remains Thinkable', Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 50(6): 85-104. Recommended Readings: Richard A. Bitzinger & Barry Desker, 2008. 'Why East Asian War is Unlikely', Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, 50(6):105-128. Kevin Rudd, 2020. 'Beware of the Guns of August - In Asia: How to Keep U.S.-Chinese Tensions from Sparking a War', Foreign Affairs, September/October 2020.
|First Short Paper due on 23 March, 23.55.
|WEEK 6: Communism in Asia (Graeme Smith), 29 March Authoritarian regimes often rely on certain political doctrine to consolidate their existence. This week explores the doctrinal bases of Asian communism and how socialist ideologies, among other factors, contribute to sustaining states' power and shaping their distinctive form of state-society relations. The lecture looks particularly at Vietnam. Readings to be advised on Wattle.
|WEEK 7: Women in Politics (Sally White), 19 April Women have often been excluded from formal political participation in Asia and globally, yet the region has also been home to highly influential female leaders over recent decades. This lecture explores the role that women play in formal and informal political processes, how the experience of politics is gendered, and the contribution of feminist scholarship to understanding political science. Required Reading: Nankyung Choi (2018) Women’s political pathways in Southeast Asia. International Feminist Journal of Politics 21(2): 224–248. Recommended Reading: Edward Aspinall, Sally White, Amalinda Savirani (2021), Women’s political representation in Indonesia: Who wins and how?, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Studies, 40:1, 3-27.
|WEEK 8: Religion and Politics (Greg Fealy), 26 April The Asian region features a range of religious traditions with some countries having a homogenous religious profile and others being more diverse. What role do religious beliefs, organisations, and leaders play in contemporary Asian politics? Required Reading: Gurharpal Singh (2019), Hindu Nationalism in Power: Making sense of Modi and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance Government, 2014–19, Sikh Formations, 15:3-4, 314-331. Recommended Reading: Iselin Frydenlund (2017), Religious liberty for whom? The Buddhist politics of religious freedom during Myanmar's transition to democracy, Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 35:1, 55-73.
|Second Short Paper due on 27 April, 23.55
|WEEK 9: Mobilising citizens: political activism, civil society and the state in Asia (Sally White), 3 May In recent decades, Asia has been the site of myriad protest movements seeking to influence governments and either expand or control political space for engaged citizens. This lecture explores the political participation of citizens outside of formal institutions and processes such as elections. How do we characterise these movements and actors, why do they emerge, and what does their success or failure tell us about state-society relations in both democratic and authoritarian nations in Asia? Required Reading: Meredith L Weiss (2021), Can civil society safeguard rights in Asia?, Asian Studies Review, 45:1, 13-27.
|WEEK 10: Asia's History as Politics (Lauren Richardson), 10 May A nation's past is not separate from its contemporary politics. Historical events - and their interpretation - can express and influence how a nation views itself, and they also shape the contemporary relations between countries. This lecture explores the importance of historical perceptions and symbols in Japan, and how they have created tensions both within Japan and in its relations with neighbouring countries, such as Korea. The lecture also highlights to students that the study of politics and history is not only done through texts - we will discuss this week's subject by exploring a number of shrines, memorials and castles in Japan that each symbolise historical events and the way different Japanese governments have situated them. Required Reading: Lauren Richardson (2021), The Ascension of ‘Comfort Women’ in South Korean Colonial Memory, in Stefan Berger, Sean Scalmer, Christian Wicke (eds.) Remembering Social Movements: Activism and Memory, London: Routledge, 26-40. Recommended Reading: Ran Zwigenberg (2019), Hiroshima Castle and the Long Shadow of Militarism in Postwar Japan, Japan Review 33: 195-218.
|WEEK 11: How 'ethnicity'? (Nick Cheesman), 17 May A lot of writers on Asia, academic and non-academic, discuss political organization and conflict in terms of ethnicity. For some, ethnicity is descriptive; it denotes actually existing groups of people identifiable by shared cultural and linguistic characteristics, and in some times and places, shared homelands. For others, it is interpretive; it is a concept with which to sort people and phenomena into categories so as to explain certain things. For many, it is some combination of both. In this class we will ask not why but how ethnicity in Asia came to be more or less politically salient and analytically significant. By what routes and in what ways has ethnicity come to shape the imaginations of political actors and students of Asian politics? Is it a help or a hinderance to our understanding of these politics? We'll explore answers to that question by bringing ideas about race and ethnicity from beyond the region into conversation with it. Burma, or Myanmar, will be a case study. Required Reading: Mahmood Mamdani (2001) Beyond Settler and Native as Political Identities: Overcoming the Political Legacy of Colonialism, Comparative Studies in History & Society 43(4): 651-664. Recommended Reading: Jane Ferguson (2015) Who’s Counting? Ethnicity, Belonging, and the National Census in Burma/Myanmar, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 171: 1–28.
|Research Essay due on 18 May, 23.55
|WEEK 12: Domestic Politics, Regional Patterns and International Contexts: How do they Interrelate? (Sally White), 24 May In this final week we'll consider the themes of the course and discuss how the largely domestic political phenomon covered in this course plays out in an international context. Required Reading: Ann Marie Murphy (2017) Great Power Rivalries, Domestic Politics and Southeast Asian Foreign Policy: Exploring the Linkages, Asian Security, 13:3, 165-182.
|Take-Home Exam due on 6 June, 23.55
Tutorial registration is on Wattle.
|Return of assessment
|First Short Paper (15%)
|1, 2, 4, 5
|Second Short Paper (15%)
|1, 3, 4, 5
|Research Essay (40%)
|3, 4, 5
|Take Home Exam (20%)
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
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Moderation of Assessment
Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
See Assessment 1.
See Assessment 5.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1-5
You will be assessed on your tutorial participation. The assessment is primarily based on the quality of your contributions in class (and therefore, not simply on the frequency of your contributions and/or attendance.) After each tutorial, you will receive a mark. Absence is marked as zero, unless documentation on justiable absence is provided. At the end of the semester, the average of your eight best marks achieved throughout the semester will be your total mark for tutorial participation.
In order to prepare for the tutorials, it is essential that you have read the required reading and attended/listened to the lecture of that week. The better you are prepared through reflecting on these materials (and, optionally, additional material you researched yourself), the more effectively you will be able to engage in class, and the better your mark will be.
Due to the special circumstances created by the COVID-19 outbreak, some tutorials might be offered online. As some students might not be able to fully contribute as a result of poor internet connections, the course convener accepts brief written commentaries on the main reading of the respective week as a substitute for a contribution made in class. Students who wish to make use of this opportunity should send this brief commentary to the course convener within one week of the tutorial for which the student seeks a substitute participation mark. Students participating in face-to-face tutorials can use the same mechanism if they feel more comfortable making written commentaries than oral contributions in class. However, such students should write to the course convener beforehand and explain their reasons for not being able to contribute in class. Unavailability due to work commitments or similar reasons are not acceptable - the mechanism of substituting oral contributions with brief commentaries in face-to-face classes is designed to accommodate students who can't contribute in class due to psychological barriers.
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4, 5
First Short Paper (15%)
The first written assessment required for the course is the First Short Paper on the topic: ‘Does democracy have a future in Asia?’ The essay should be 1000 words, not including references. There are many ways in which you might approach this topic, but keep in mind that the question relates to Asia as a geographic focus. If you wish, you could take one or two countries as case studies, though given the word limit, these will need to be fairly brief. We have provided material in some of the early lectures which might assist you in answering this but you should also make use of web searches to find relevant material, whether it be of a scholarly nature or from reputable sections of the media.
The structure of the essay is very important. You need to properly introduce the topic and indicate the line of argumentation that you will be taking. The middle of the essay is for providing background or contextual information that you feel is relevant and, most importantly, supporting data for your argument(s). The essay should end with a (very brief) conclusion which reflects back on your text and its analytical content.
The essay should have references acknowledging where you have obtained key pieces of information from. In-text or Harvard-style references are best in a short format such as this, with a short list of references at the end of the essay. But you are generally free to choose any widely accepted citation style.
Please keep in mind that this writing exercise is worth 15% of the total mark, so you should allocate a proportional amount of time to completing this (in other words, don't overthink it, but also take it seriously enough). The assignment will give us a sense of your writing and allow us to provide you with feedback prior to you preparing your main research essay.
The assignment is due on 23 March at 23.55. Submission is on Wattle through Turnitin.
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5
Second Short Paper (15%)
In the lecture on 29 March, a task will be released. It will also be posted on Wattle and discussed in the subsequent tutorials. You are asked to write a 1000-word Short Paper to address this task.
The Second Short Paper constitutes 15% of the total mark. Submission is due on 27 April at 23.55 on Wattle through Turnitin.
Assessment Task 4
Learning Outcomes: 3, 4, 5
Research Essay (40%)
The key assignment in this course is the research essay. The word limit for this essay is 2000 words. You are free to write on any subject you like that falls within the parameters of politics in the Asia-Pacific. This open task gives you the chance to pursue your own interests and define your future profile as a student and, subsequently, professional. We will talk more about this task in the tutorials, and are happy to set up individual consultations to discuss specific questions. Please also refer to the Essay Writing Guide placed on this Wattle site.
The Research Paper constitutes 40% of the total mark. It is due on 18 May at 23.55 on Wattle through Turnitin.
Assessment Task 5
Learning Outcomes: 1-5
Take Home Exam (20%)
A take home exam will be posted on Wattle in the last week of the semester, and must be returned no later than 6 June at 23.55. The Take-Home Exam constitutes 20 % of the total mark. The word limit, excluding references, is 1000 words. Submission is on Wattle through Turnitin.
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- Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day.
- Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.
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Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.
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Indonesian politics, particularly the role of women in politics, and Islam and the politics of gender; comparative Southeast Asian politics
Dr Sally White