E. Aspinall and W. Berenschot, "Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State in Indonesia" (Cornell UP, 2019)


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In post-Suharto Indonesian politics the exchange of patronage for political support is commonplace. Clientelism saturates the political system through everyday practices of vote buying, influence peddling, manipulating government programs, and skimming money from government projects.

In this episode of New Books in Southeast Asian Studies, Professor Michele Ford spoke with Professors Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot about their upcoming book, Democracy for Sale: Elections, Clientelism, and the State in Indonesia (Cornell University Press, 2019). Democracy for Sale is an on-the-ground account of Indonesian democracy, analysing its election campaigns and behind-the-scenes machinations. With comparative leverage from political practices in India and Argentina, Edward Aspinall and Ward Berenschot provide compelling evidence of the importance of informal networks and personal relationships that shape access to power and privilege in the messy political environment of contemporary Indonesia.

Edward Aspinall is a Professor in the Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University. He researches politics in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, with interests in democratisation, ethnicity, and clientelism, among other topics.

Ward Berenschot is a Professor of Comparative Political Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and a senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), studying contemporary politics in Indonesia and India. His work focuses on the role of money and informality in election campaigns, while a second field of research concerns the character of civil society and citizenship in democratising countries. He has also been involved in efforts to promote legal aid in Indonesia, particularly in relation to land conflicts sparked by palm oil expansion.

Professor Michele Ford is the Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia.

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