Sophie Lemière

(Re-) Inventing Democracy in Malaysia

Dr. Sophie Lemière is a political anthropologist from France, whose research examines power and legitimacy in semi-authoritarian and transitional systems, with a particular focus on Malaysia. Her other research interests include the nexus between religion, criminality, and politics, and the politicization of civil society. She is also a nonresident fellow at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democracy, an associate researcher in the History Workshop at University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, and has also served as a fellow at Stanford University. She is the editor of a book series, “Malaysian Politics and People,” which includes Misplaced Democracy (2014), Illusions of Democracy (2017) and Minorities Matter (2019). Aiming to reach a lay audience, she has also published her work in numerous non-academic outlets. In addition, she directed the film “9/43,” featuring the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar, which was selected among the 25 best movies of the French short film festival ‘Infracourt’ in 2016. During her fellowship, Dr. Lemière will complete a political biography of the Mahathir campaign, drawing on her extensive research on and networks in Malaysian politics. Her research will examine how Mahathir’s 2018 election represents both a re-invention of a political persona (until his resignation in February 2020) and a step toward the creation of a new democratic narrative in Malaysia.