The Analytical is Liberal: Liberal Biases in the Analysis of Populism in Indonesia and the Philippines

Dr Rommel Curaming1

1Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei Darussalam

Unrecognized liberal biases seem to underpin analytic practices in general. These biases go unnoticed, and hence no longer seen as bias, because we have long assumed to be unassailable the fundamental assumptions that enable analysis. The study of politics or political science is a field strikingly impervious to such biases perhaps because of the assumption that the political can be or may best be subjected to scientific analysis. Examining a number of recent studies on populism in Indonesia and the Philippines, this paper seeks to illustrate in what ways, and with what consequences, the liberal biases inform analysis of politics in/on the two countries. I conclude with suggestions on what may be done to address this problem.


Dr. Rommel A. Curaming is Senior Assistant Professor at the History and International Studies Programme of the Univerisiti of Brunei Darussalam (UBD). He completed PhD in Southeast Asian Studies at the Australian National University (ANU). Before joining UBD, he was a postdoctoral fellow at La Trobe University and National University of Singapore (NUS). The thematic areas of his research interests vary (comparative history and historiography, knowledge politics, state-scholar relations, memory of violence, heritage-making, fast food and transnational identity, Filipino Malayness, history theory, decolonial/postcolonial theory) but they cohere around the mechanics of the hidden politics of good intentions and the (supposedly) non-political, as evident in knowledge production and consumption in/on Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and the Philippines. He published in journals such as Critical Asian Studies, South East Asia Research, Time and Society, Philippine Studies, among others. His latest publication is Power and Knowledge in Southeast Asia: State and Scholars in Indonesia and the Philippines (Routledge, 2019)



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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