About John SidelJohn Sidel is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Before taking up this post at the LSE in 2004, Professor Sidel taught for ten years at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He specializes in the study of local politics, religion and politics, and nationalism and transnational forces in Southeast Asia.
By John Sidel. Posted January 22, 2012
Today, ordinary people in villages and towns in many parts of Asia enjoy more freedom, choice and power than ever before. This is in large part due to the expansion of markets and elections to encompass growing numbers of consumers and citizens, along with the devolution of state power into local hands. Against this backdrop, considerable interest has focused on the role of “local elites” in Asia: “bosses and dynasties” in the Philippines, “goondas” in India, “village emperors and local mandarins” in Viet Nam and PRC. By maintaining monopolistic, authoritarian control over markets, state resources and votes, these local elites are seen to be blocking the emancipatory effects of globalization, democracy and decentralization.
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