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Maintaining the Relevance and Place of the Monarchies of Southeast Asia: Why the Rulers Matter

Tue, June 23, 2:00 to 3:55pm, North Building, Floor: 5th Floor, N501


Southeast Asia is home to many of the remaining royal families of the world, and the institution of kingship remains a real and relevant phenomenon in countries like Thailand, Brunei and Malaysia. Even Indonesia and the Philippines, both of which are ostensibly and officially republics, remain home to royal families and royal institutions that possess cultural capital and wield clout in their respective societies. Unlike the Arab world that has witnessed several far-reaching revolutions and attempts at political transformation, Southeast Asia has benefitted from the peace dividend of the post-Cold War era. Rapid development from the 1980s to the present has not eroded the power and influence of many of the royal families of Southeast Asia, and in some respects their place and role in both society and politics are more pivotal now than ever. Recent developments in the Arab world, however, have been a cause of concern for the states of Southeast Asia – notably the rise of the Islamic State (IS) which is seen as both anti-state and anti-monarchical. How the states of Southeast Asia view these developments, and what they have done in response to IS’s challenge against both the state and the system of Monarchical power, will be the focus of this presentation/paper.