Comparative State and Religion in Southeast Asia

How do Southeast Asian constitutions accommodate religion? Is secularism necessary for democracy? Do public religions undermine religious freedom? These are some of the questions we will be engaging with in this course. There are two segments to the course. In the first segment, we will examine general theories of statereligion relations, including liberal assumptions of the dominant theory of the separation of church and state (the “disestablishment theory”), the rise and fall of the secularization thesis, and alternative theories. During the second segment, we will examine statereligion relations through topical issues in selected countries in Southeast Asia, including how legal systems in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia accommodate Syariah Courts, and how separationist claims based on religious difference and identities are advanced in the Philippines and Thailand.

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