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The dawn of the 21st century promised peaceful days in Southeast Asia. But today, despite advances in democracy and enviable economic growth, we face a range of regimes marked by various forms of authoritarianism. From the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to the military regime in Thailand, to the marked shrinkage in Cambodia’s democratic space, to repression of the Rohingya minority in Burma by a government ironically headed by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, to the growing anti-Chinese and anti-Christian movements in Indonesia, which led to the dismissal and possible imprisonment of Jakarta’s Christian mayor, how can we explain this authoritarian backsliding? Is it circumstantial or does it signal a general trend? How do we reconcile continued economic growth and a robust middle class with the rise of increasingly authoritarian political regimes? In short, is the region entering a new, postdemocratic political era?

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