Book launch - Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia

This book launch is the inaugural event of the ANU Southeast Asia Institute Research Seminar Series. 

It is co-hosted by the ANU Southeast Asia Institute and the Department of Political and Social Change at the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. 

Across Southeast Asia, as in many other regions of the world, politicians seek to win elections by distributing cash, goods, jobs, projects, and other material benefits to supporters. But they do so in ways that vary tremendously—both across and within countries.

This event launches a book that two ANU Bell School scholars, Edward Aspinall and Paul Hutchcroft, have co-authored with Meredith Weiss of the University at Albany, SUNY, and Allen Hicken of the University of Michigan. In Mobilizing for Elections: Patronage and Political Machines in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2022), the four co-authors present a new framework for analysing variation in patronage democracies, focusing on distinct forms of patronage and different networks through which it is distributed.

The book draws on a large-scale, multi-country, multi-year research effort involving interactions with hundreds of politicians and vote brokers, as well as surveys of voters and political campaigners across the region.

At the core of the analysis is the concept of electoral mobilization regimes, used to describe how key types of patronage interact with the networks that politicians use to organize and distribute these material resources: political parties in Malaysia, local machines in the Philippines, and ad hoc election teams in Indonesia. In doing so, the book shows how and why patronage politics varies, and how it works on the ground.


  • Professor Edward Aspinall, ANU Bell School
  • Professor Paul Hutchcroft, ANU Bell School


  • Associate Professor Björn Dressel, ANU Crawford School
  • Professor Nicole Curato, University of Canberra

Professor Evelyn Goh, the Director of the Southeast Asia Institute will launch the event.

The ANU Southeast Asia Institute Research Seminar Series is a recurring seminar series that showcases the work of scholars within the ANU working on political, social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia, with the goal of encouraging greater exchange, collaboration and networking amongst the research community.

Contact the Southeast Asia Institute Research Series Conveners: 

  • Björn Dressel at
  • Nicholas Chan at

The event is followed by light refreshments.

Click here to join our mailing list.

Event Speakers

Edward Aspinall

Professor Edward Aspinall

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

Paul Hutchcroft

Professor Paul Hutchcroft

Paul Hutchcroft is Professor of Political and Social Change in The Australian National University’s Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs (of which he was founding director, 2009-2013). He is a scholar of comparative and Southeast Asian politics who has written extensively on Philippine politics and political economy.

Björn Dressel

Associate Professor Björn Dressel

Björn Dressel is an Associate Professor, and Director of Research and Impact, at the ANU  Crawford School of Public Policy. His research is concerned with issues of comparative constitutionalism, judicial politics and governance and public sector reform in Asia.

Nicole Curato

Professor Nicole Curato

Nicole Curato is a Professor of Political Sociology at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. Her work examines how democratic innovations unfold in the aftermath of tragedies, including disasters, armed conflict, and urban crime.

Evelyn Goh

Professor Evelyn Goh

Evelyn Goh FBA FASSA is the Shedden Professor of Strategic Policy Studies at the ANU Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. She is also Director of the ANU Southeast Asia Institute. Goh's scholarship focuses on East Asian security and international relations, and she is a leading authority on Southeast Asian security strategies.


This event will be held in hybrid mode, i.e. in-person on the ANU Campus, and virtually on zoom.


IN-PERSON: Institutes Boardroom, HC Coombs Extension Building 8, 9 Fellows Road ANU, ACTON, ACT 2601. 

ONLINE: Zoom. Please select the relevant ticket, in-person or online, according to your preferred attendance mode.


The ANU Southeast Asia Institute Research Seminar Series is a recurring seminar series that showcases the work of scholars within the ANU working on political, social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia, with the goal of encouraging greater exchange, collaboration and networking amongst the research community.


The role of 'resources' in regime durability in Laos: The political economy of statist market socialism


The relationship between social media and populism is a much-debated topic. The usual concern is that social media exacerbates prevailing fault lines. What is less explored is the chain of online/offline events and network of interested parties that led to moments of populist mobilisation with highly consequential majoritarian aftereffects. In Southeast Asia, these populist events are not organic per se, but rely on longstanding virtual communities that sustained in-group preaching; Overton Window-shifting conspiracy theories and propaganda; and networks of virality activated during moments of need. 

This seminar stems from an ongoing effort to capture and analyse pivotal moments of right-wing online mobilisation in Malaysia through a five-factor framework: moments, mobilisation, mediatisation, mainstreaming, and mirroring. Using several instances of majoritarian mobilisation in Malaysia (anti-ICERD rally, Buy Muslims First campaign, and the recent ‘Green Wave’), the speakers explore the ‘manufactured’ nature of these moments and how an online/offline combination resulted in the mobilisation and mainstreaming of right-wing agendas.

The speakers examine how right-wing politicians, activists, preachers, opinion leaders and cyber troopers propagate perceptions of ‘Islam under threat’ to justify their intolerant attitudes toward ethnic, religious, gender and sexual minorities, and the conditions that facilitate such digitised mobilising. They argue that these forms of mobilisations hypercharged majoritarian trends, such as the purported ‘Green Wave’ during the recent Malaysian elections.

Lastly, they also go beyond the Malaysian case study to see how these forms of right-wing mobilisation are mirrored in the region (such as in Indonesia) and beyond.


Dr Nicholas Chan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), The Australian National University. His research interest lies in the intersection of religion and politics, with a specific focus on areas such as ontological security, religion and social media, counter-terrorism, and millenarian violence. He has published in journals such as Foreign Policy AnalysisTRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, and Critical Security Studies.

Dr Hew Wai Weng is a research fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (IKMAS, UKM). He writes about Chinese Muslim identities, Hui migrations, political Islam, urban middle-class Muslim aspirations and their social media practices in Malaysia and Indonesia. He is the author of Chinese Ways of Being Muslim: Negotiating Ethnicity and Religiosity in Indonesia (NIAS Press, 2018). He will be a Fulbright visiting fellow at the Cornell University Southeast Asia Program from 2023-2024.

Photo by Hew Wai Weng

Click here to join our mailing list

Contact the ANU Southeast Asia Institute Research Seminar Series Conveners: 

Launching of the Southeast Asianists Interview Series on the ANU SEAI Website and a Panel on the Future of Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian Studies

The ANU Southeast Asia Institute is proud to launch our original eight-episode interview series titled Southeast Asianists: Scholarly Profiles, which will be available on our website on 7 September.

Hosted and produced by Emir Syailendra, this limited series profiled eight scholars who have spent numerous years contributing to our understanding of Southeast Asia as a region, namely: Prof Evelyn Goh, Prof Anthony Milner, Prof Khong Yuen Foong, Prof Cheng-Chwee Kuik, Dr Rizal Sukma, Prof Robert Cribb, Prof Virginia M Hooker, and Prof Anthony Reid. We want to invite you to celebrate and learn from them. During the launch, we will preview the supercuts of the entire series on how to understand Southeast Asia, followed by a discussion on the region's future.  

We are also launching our 2023 Southeast Asia Regional Geopolitical Update's One-stop Information Page.

The page contains eighteen commentaries that offer valuable policy relevance insights to help guide our understanding of this dynamic region.

A refreshment will be provided after the event. 

About the Series: "Southeast Asianists: Scholarly Profile"

This season of Southeast Asianists celebrates and seeks to learn from eight scholars with diverse academic training, experiences, scholarly traits, and approaches to studying Southeast Asia.   

  • Prof Evelyn Goh on her struggle for analytical precision in writing about the dynamics of Southeast Asia and great power relations. 
  • Prof Anthony Milner on the importance of scholarly revision when considering Southeast Asia. 
  • Prof Khong Yuen Foong on Southeast Asia as a case study to understand great powers' approach to the rest of the world.
  • Prof Cheng-Chwee Kuik on generating conceptual insights from Southeast Asia.
  • Dr Rizal Sukma on his Track 2, Track 1.5, and Track 1 experience bridging the academic and policy worlds in Southeast Asia.
  • Prof Robert Cribb on the importance of varied scholarly interests in driving his investigation of power relations in Southeast Asia.
  • Prof Virginia Hooker on contextual analysis of texts and visuals from Southeast Asia.
  • Prof Anthony Reid on understanding Southeast Asia as a cohesive unit.

The producer Emir Syailendra is a PhD Candidate at the Strategic and Defence Study Center at the Australian National University. While the series is oriented toward academic audiences, it serves as a useful tool for those who desire to understand Southeast Asia as a region.

About the One-Stop Information Page

For policy-interested audiences, ANU SEAI is also proud to launch our One-Stop Information Page that contains valuable information that equips our understanding of where Southeast Asian states are heading. It contains eighteen policy-relevant commentaries from distinguished scholars across Southeast Asian regions and those who have studied Southeast Asia.

These commentaries tackle the hard-hitting question: Can Southeast Asian states continue to avoid invidious choices between the great powers? How will Southeast Asian political economies ensure the security of critical supply chains and technology, and the sustainability of development imperatives? And how can the region update and innovate mechanisms for guarding against intramural disputes as well as external tensions and armed conflicts?

Please join us at this event.

Click here to join our mailing list