Dan SlaterOrdering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia

Cambridge University Press, 2010

by Nick Cheesman on November 14, 2014

Dan Slater

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Few books on Southeast Asia cover as much geographic, historical and theoretical ground as Dan Slater’s Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2010). Working across seven case studies, the book argues that existing theories of institutionalization don’t account for regional variation in regime type. Tracing causal processes from the colonial period to the present day, it shows how internal conflicts occurring at critical moments of state building encouraged the formation of elite “protection pacts” with a high degree of durability. Along the way, it engages with an expansive and diverse array of literature on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Burma, Singapore, South Vietnam, and Thailand.

Ordering Power is an ambitious and demanding study, but also a highly accessible one that appeals to a range of audiences. Above all, it is a book that demands the attention of anyone interested in Southeast Asian politics. As John Sidel puts it, “Slater has single-handedly raised the standards—and the stakes—of cross-national comparative analysis” of the region.


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