Professor Lily Zubaidah Rahim
Professor in Global Studies
School of Arts and Social Sciences
+603-5514 6076 (Ext: 46076)
Room No. 2-6-35
Lily Zubaidah is a Singapore national, with strong family roots in Malaysia and resident of Australia for more than 20 years. This layered and multi-faceted identity has been incorporated into her teaching and research interests.
From 2019-2020, she was Malaysia Chair of Islam in Southeast Asia at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) and Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC. She is currently an Honorary Fellow at the ACMCU, Georgetown University.
She has been awarded Fellowships at Leiden University (The Netherlands), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore) and was a Visiting Research Associate at Nuffied College, Oxford University in early 2019.
Lily was awarded a PhD from the Department of Government & International Relations, University of Sydney in 1995. Prior to that, she completed her Master of Arts (History) and Bachelor of Arts (History major) degrees from the University of New South Wales, Australia.
Before her sojourn to Georgetown University, Lily was an Associate Professor at the Department of Government & International Relations and Convenor of the Religion, State & Society and Social Inclusion Research Networks at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney.
Her research focuses on themes such as authoritarian governance, democratisation, Southeast Asian Politics, political Islam, ethnic politics and ethnic and religious nationalism.
Lily’s sole-authored and edited books include The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community (Oxford University Press 1998/2001; translated to Malay by the Malaysian National Institute for Translation), Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges (Routledge, 2009), Muslim Secular Democracy (PalgraveMacmillan, 2013), The Politics of Islamism: Diverging Visions and Trajectories (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) and The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore’s Developmental State (PalgraveMacmillan, 2019).
She is completing a major comparative research (book) project on racial and religious nationalism in Malaysia and the United States and co-editor for a PalgraveMacmillan’s book series titled Islam in Southeast Asia.
Lily has published in international journals such as Democratization, Contemporary Politics, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Critical Asian Studies, Japanese Journal of Political Science and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. Her journal article ‘Governing Muslims in Singapore’s Secular Authoritarian State’ was short-listed for the Boyer Prize by the Australian Journal of International Affairs.
From 2017-2019, Lily was Vice-President of the Australian Association for Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS) and has served as President and Secretary/Treasurer of the Malaysia and Singapore Society of Australia (MASSA) – the peak academic association on Malaysia and Singapore studies in Australia. Her consultancy work includes projects with the Asia-Europe Foundation. She has been commissioned by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the United Nations Human Rights Commission to report on the status of ethnic and indigenous minorities in Southeast Asia.
PhD (Government and International Relations), University of Sydney, Australia
MA (History), University of New South Wales, Australia
BA (History), University of New South Wales, Australia
American Political Science Association (APSA).
Australian Political Science Association (APSA).
International Political Science Association (IPSA).
Malaysia and Singapore Society of Australia (MASSA), Former President and Treasurer.
Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA), Malaysia and Singapore Studies Coordinator.
Asian Studies Association (North America), Member.
Research and Education
Lily Zubaidah’s research is multidisciplinary in orientation but theoretically rooted in the discipline of political science. This multi-disciplinary research orientation is reflected in her research publications on authoritarian governance, democratisation, ethnic politics, electoral politics, political Islam and regionalism.
Her publications are thematically oriented towards exploring the complex challenges of governance in authoritarian and democratising states in Southeast Asia, political Islam and electoral politics in Muslim-majority states, regionalism and the evolution of developmental states. Her research interests have increasingly taken on regional global dimensions.
Lily Zubaidah is currently writing a sole-authored book on Race, Religion and Political Reckoning in Malaysia and other plural societies.
Lily’s first book, The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community (1998/2001 Oxford Uni. Press) is widely considered a seminal work on the Singaporean state’s management of ethnicity and socio-economic disadvantage. The book’s conceptual innovation and systematic interrogation of multiracialism, meritocracy and authoritarian nation-building in Singapore led to its translation to Bahasa Malaysia by the Malaysia National Institute of Translation.
Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges (Routledge, 2009) is the first sole-authored book to systematically investigate the deep-seated historical and contemporary economic and political tensions between the neighbouring post-colonial states of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Primary sources for this pioneering book include interviews with Malaysian Prime Ministers Mahathir Mohamad and Najib Razak
The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore’s Developmental State (co-edited, PalgraveMacmillan, 2019) places Singapore’s economic achievements within the theoretical framework of the developmental state. In particular, Singapore’s productivist social policy orientation and authoritarian political trajectory is innovatively compared with the democratic developmental states of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The book has been released in both hardback and paperback editions and has been categorised as a current national best-seller in Kinokuniya’s bookstore in Singapore.
Lily Zubaidah has published in premier international (A) journals such as Democratization, Contemporary Politics, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Critical Asian Studies and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. In 2012, her sole-authored journal article ‘Governing Muslims in Singapore’s Secular Authoritarian State’ was short-listed for the Boyer Prize by the Australian Journal of International Affairs.
Many of her journal articles are ERA A-ranked and have been republished as book chapters.
Lily Zubaidah has taught units in Southeast Asian Politics and Political Islam to undergraduate, Honours as well as Masters (Coursework) students. These units are strongly based on her research expertise and publication record. Through the years, she has consistently achieved above average teaching satisfaction ratings and was a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Prize and nominated for the Wayne Lonegan Outstanding Teaching Award at the University of Sydney. She is committed to a learning framework which promotes intellectual autonomy, an ethical ethos and lifelong learning.
To date, she has supervised and co-supervised dozens of undergraduate Honours and Masters students and numerous PhD students. Many of her former PhD students have published their theses with premier academic presses such as Oxford University Press, Routledge and PalgraveMacmillan, as well as international refereed journals. She has also published journal articles and collaborated on edited book projects with former Honours and postgraduate students.
The political science units taught have been strongly Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Economy in orientation.
Senior undergraduate units taught such as Islam and Democracy in the Muslim World examine the political trajectories in Muslim-majority states within Comparative and International Relations contexts. The conceptual and theoretical themes in her co-edited book The Politics of Islam: Diverging Visions and Trajectories (2018) have been strongly shaped by research projects and teaching themes on political Islam and the dilemmas of democratisation and authoritarian resilience.
The senior undergraduate unit Dilemmas of Development in Southeast Asia and Masters unit Democracy and Development in Southeast Asia were strongly governance and political economy in orientation. In these units, she focused on the evolution and varieties of developmental states in Southeast and Northeast Asia, compared the institutional-building challenges in regional organisations such as ASEAN and the European Union and examined the complex relationship between development and democratisation.
Lily Zubaidah’s research and teaching focus on governance, democratisation and policy reform in East Asian (authoritarian and democratic) developmental states culminated in the publication of the 2019 co-edited book The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore’s Developmental State (PalgraveMacmillan). Chapter contributors include prominent developmental state theorists such as Professors Dan Slater and Mark Thompson who participated in a workshop for this edited book in Kuala Lumpur in 2016.
To date, Lily Zubaidah sole-authored and edited/co-edited book publications include:
The Singapore Dilemma: The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community, (sole-authored, Oxford University Press 1998/2001; translated to Malay by the Malaysian National Institute for Translation);
Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges (sole-authored, Routledge, 2009);
Muslim Secular Democracy (edited, PalgraveMacmillan, 2013),
The Politics of Islamism: Diverging Visions and Trajectories (co-edited, PalgraveMacmillan, 2018);
The Limits of Authoritarian Governance in Singapore’s Developmental State (co-edited, PalgraveMacmillan, 2019).
Currently writing a sole authored book on Race, Religion and the Challenges of Political and Policy Reform in Malaysia and other divided societies .
1. Qatar National Priorities Research Program Grant (2016-2020), Project ID: 9-309-5044)
Transitions of Islam and Democracy: Engendering Democratic Leaning and Civic Identities’
Research team: Professor Larbi Sadiki, Qatar University; A/Professor Youcef Boundel, Qatar University; Dr Layla Saleh, Qatar University; Professor Ali Al Shawi, Qatar University; A/Professor Lily Z. Rahim, University of Sydney, Dr Naser Ghobadzadeh, Australian Catholic University (Melbourne), Dr Mohammad Moussa, Istanbul Sabahattim Zaim University, Turkey.
2. Australian, Attorney General’s Department Grant, Commonwealth Government, (2015) - $50,000.
‘Living Safe Together: Improving Capabilities to Develop Intervention Services to Counter Radicalism’.
3. Australia-Malaysia Institute, Dept. of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, (2010) - $26,000.
4. Australian Research Council (Discovery) Grant, Project ID: DP0342562 (2003-2006) - A$190,000.
Team Members: Professor Carl Trocki (Queensland Uni. of Technology); Dr. Michael ; Barr (University of Queensland); Dr. Suchou Yao (University of Sydney); Dr Lily Zubaidah Rahim (University of Sydney).
Project Title: ‘Paths Not Taken: The False Spring of Political Pluralism in Postwar Singapore’.
1. Internal Grant,
SSEAC Research Mobility Grant (2017),
University of Sydney, (2017) - $3,000.
2. School of Social and Political Sciences Research Collaboration Grant (2016) University of Sydney, Social Inclusion Network - $9,300.
3. Sydney Southeast Asian Centre Workshop Grant, University of Sydney (2015) -$10,000, ‘The Challenge of Governance Reform in Singapore.
4. Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, Research Collaborative Grant, University of Sydney (2012-2013) - $47,000, Religion, State & Society (RSS) Network.
5. Faculty of Economics & Business Research Grant, University of Sydney,(2007) - $15,000.
6. School of Economics and Political Science Research Support Grant, University of Sydney, (2002) -$1,000.
Areas of Research & Supervision
Ethnic politics, critical race theory, electoral politics, democratisation, authoritarian governance, regionalism, globalisation, political Islam, Southeast Asian politics, Singapore and Malaysian politics.
Postgraduate (Monash University)
Postgraduate (University of Sydney)
1. Renita Moniaga (University of Sydney),
‘Rebranding Indonesia: Dynamics of soft-power in the democratic era’,
2. Paul Esber (University of Sydney).
‘Who are the Jordanians?: The citizen-subjects of Abdullah’,
Joint supervisor with Dr. Lucia Sorbera, Dept. of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Sydney.
3. Marty Kear (University of Sydney),
‘Is this the way to Palestine?: Hamas and the contested road to statehood’,
4. Helena Varkkey (University of Sydney),
‘The haze problem in Southeast Asia: Palm oil and patronage’,
Joint supervisor with Professor Susan Park, Dept. of Government & International Relations, University of Sydney.
5. Naser Ghobadzadeh (University of Sydney),
‘Religious secularity: Shia repudiation of the clerical Islamic state’,
Joint supervision with Professor John Keane, Dr. of Government & International Relations, University of Sydney.
6. Noriyuki Sagawa (University of Sydney),
‘Juggling between assimilation and multiculturalism: Language and education policies for national integration in Malaysia’,
7. Rosa Evaquarta (University of Sydney),
‘The relationship between political and business actors: Comparative studies of decentralised post-authoritarian Indonesia and Russia’,
Joint supervision with Professor Graeme Gill, Department of Government & International Relations.
8. Hongyan Gu (University of Sydney),
‘Ecological nationalism in China and Japan: Continuity and change in state-nature relations’,
9. Marc Rerceretnam (University of Sydney),
‘Black Europeans, the Indian coolies and empire: Colonisation and christianised Indians in colonial Malaya and Singapore, 1870s-1950’,
Joint supervision with Professor Ben Tipton, Department of Economic History, University of Sydney.
Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore.
Fellow, Asian Institute of International Studies at University of Leiden, the Netherlands.
Fellow, Asia Pacific Rim University (APRU).
Invitations to submit reports to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Teaching Excellence Award, University of Sydney .
Visiting Academic, Nuffield College, Oxford University.
7. August 2019 to June 2020
Malaysia Chair of Islam in Southeast Asia, Alwaleed Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC.