AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 469

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Session 469: Presidential Roundtable: Democracy and Pluralism in Asia

Organizer: K. Sivaramakrishnan, Yale University, USA

Discussants: Ramachandra Guha, Independent Scholar, India; Robin M. LeBlanc, Washington & Lee University, USA; John T. Sidel, London School of Economics, United Kingdom; Chun Lin, London School of Economics, USA; Duncan McCargo, University of Leeds, USA; Tanika Sarkar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

This round table would explore the recent experience with the idea of democracy in Asia and its relation to ideas of pluralism in different Asian societies to provoke a comparative discussion on political discourse and mobilization. It would be an opportunity to examine pluralism in political values and social identities in Asian contexts, and comment on patterns of state formation that in specific countries have inhibited or espoused the emergence of political institutions that favor pluralism. This would also be the occasion to deliberate on the role the idea of democracy or the process of democratization plays in engendering pluralism. Questions asked and discussed in this round table would include: what is pluralism in specific Asian countries? How does it relate to the development and working of democratic political institutions? What has been the experience of democracy in Asia? Does it benefit from, or foster, pluralism in political and social life in different Asian countries? We would convene a comparative discussion of the experience with democracy in Asia, but with a focus on how democratic ideals and political structures have enabled or disabled concentrations of power. We are also interested in how plural societies - multiethnic, multilingual, and multireligious - have evolved distinct democratic traditions in Asia.