Southeast Asia has undergone innumerable far-reaching changes and dramatic transformations over the last half-century. This book explores the concept of power in relation to these transformations, and examines its various social, cultural, religious, economic and political forms.

The book works from the ground up, portraying Southeast Asians’ own perspectives, conceptualizations and experiences of power through empirically rich case studies. Exploring concepts of power in diverse settings, from the stratagems of Indonesian politicians and the aspirations of marginal Lao bureaucrats, to mass ‘Prayer Power’ rallies in the Philippines, self-cultivation practices of Thai Buddhists and relations with the dead in Singapore, the book lays out a new framework for the analysis of power in Southeast Asia in which orientations towards or away from certain models, practices and configurations of power take centre stage in analysis. In doing so the book demonstrates how power cannot be pinned down to a single definition, but is woven into Southeast Asian lives in complex, subtle, and often surprising ways. 

Integrating theoretical debates with empirical evidence drawn from the contributing authors’ own research, this book is of particular interest to scholars and students of Anthropology and Asian Studies.

chapter 1|15 pages


Power and orientation in Southeast Asia
ByLiana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long, Lee Wilson

chapter 2|21 pages

The subject of power in Southeast Asia

ByShelly Errington

chapter 3|14 pages

Power, protection and perfectibility

Aspiration and materiality in Thailand
ByJoanna Cook

chapter 4|16 pages

Sakti reconsidered

Power and the disenchantment of the world1
ByAdrian Vickers

chapter 5|14 pages

Landscape, power and agency in Eastern Indonesia

ByCatherine Allerton

chapter 7|14 pages

The anthropology of a necessary mistake

The unsettled dead and the imagined state in contemporary Singapore
ByRuth E. Toulson

chapter 8|12 pages

Privateers, politicians, prowess and power

ByLoren Ryter

chapter 10|16 pages

Living on the horizon of the everlasting present

Power, planning and the emergence of baroque forms of life in urban Malaysia
ByRichard Baxstrom

chapter 11|14 pages

Apparitions of sapiocracy

Vietnam's emergent welfare state and the restless dead of Thanh Ha
ByMarkus Schlecker

chapter 12|16 pages

From the power of prayer to prayer power

On religion and revolt in the modern Philippines
ByDeirdre de la Cruz