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Open seminar: Buddhism and democracy in Thailand: A Tocquevillean approach
May 9, 2018 - 14:00-15:30
Tomas Larsson, who teaches Southeast Asian politics at the University of Cambridge., will give this lecture on buddhism and democracy in Thailand. In the 1990s, Thailand was regarded as a Southeast Asian paragon of democratization. Today, Thailand, which experienced military coups in 2006 and 2014, is ruled by the last genuine military dictatorships still standing not only in Asia but anywhere in the world. Popular sovereignty has been replaced, through military design, by a Thai-style aristocratic form of authoritarian government: rule by “good people.” This talk explores the religious dimensions of the making and unmaking of democracy in Thailand. It draws on Alexis de Tocqueville’s dual conception of democracy as a matter of 1) popular sovereignty and 2) a condition of fundamental moral and legal equality between citizens, and highlights the role of what Tocqueville called “habits of the heart” in underpinning political orders.