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Civil Society Elites with Astrid Norén Nilsson, Amalinda Savirani and Anders Uhlin

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What does civil society look like in Indonesia and Cambodia, and who are civil society elites?

In this podcast episode of the Nordic Asia Podcast, editors of “Civil Society Elites. Field Studies from Cambodia and Indonesia” Astrid Norén-Nilsson, Amalinda Savirani and Anders Uhlin dive into the themes of their book. 

However central we know leadership to be to social movements of all kinds, the role of key individuals [...] has garnered surprisingly little attention in the literature. This volume addresses that gap, bringing together researchers working on, and primarily in, Cambodia and Indonesia to explore the bases of authority, origins, career paths, networks, influences on, and regeneration of a 'civil society elite'.

This innovative volume is the first systematic study of civil society elites in Southeast Asia (and indeed anywhere in the world). Spanning two previously separate areas of research – civil society and elites – it sheds new light on power inequalities within and beyond civil society, identifies different types of elite formation and elite interaction within and beyond civil society, and traces interactions and integration with elite groups from party politics, the state, and the business sector.

Front Cover of Norén-Nielsen

This tightly edited volume, produced by a research team ranging from senior scholars to promising younger academics, analyses how such processes are influenced by reliance on foreign funding and explores how they play out in two settings – where the political space for civil society is generally shrinking (Cambodia) and where it is relatively expanding (Indonesia). However, the volume offers more than a rethinking of civil society in Cambodia and Indonesia; it looks beyond. It thus challenges a view of civil society entities as relatively isolated from the state and from political and economic society, revealing power relations that link them.

You can listen to the episode on the Nordic Asia Podcast, on Spotify or on your preferred platform.