Authoritarian populism, a bloody war, and public scholarship

Academic Views, Events / Friday, January 5th, 2024

Wednesday 17 January, 8–9pm, on Zoom.

Academics are often disparaged for confining themselves to their “ivory tower”. But, those who venture into the public square may not be welcomed with open arms. On the contrary, academics trying to play the role of public intellectuals face a range of state and non-state penalties including, in some countries, threats to their lives and livelihoods. In this webinar, two emerging scholars from the Philippines and Singapore share their experiences. 

Sol Iglesias (University of the Philippines – Diliman) will report on obstacles faced by academics as they attempt to set the record straight in response to the historical revisionism orchestrated by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., to whitewash his father’s dictatorial rule. She will present  preliminary findings from an incident monitoring dataset that she developed as part of the Network in Defense of Historical Truth and Academic Freedom, a group of scholars, researchers and educators. 

Walid Jumblatt Abdullah (Nanyang Technological University) will address how academics engaging with the War on Gaza have, in several countries, faced unprecedented restrictions and punishments. He will discuss the blind spot that even many progressives have on the Palestinian issue. Walid, who hosts the Teh Tarik with Walid interview series on Instagram Live, will also share his personal experiences of engaging the Singapore public on the subject of Palestine since the war started. 


Sol Iglesias is an assistant professor of Political Science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Scholars at Risk (SAR) selected her for a 2023-2024 Mellon/SAR Academic Freedom Fellowship. She co-authored a special report on the Philippines for SAR’s Free to Think 2022 report. She is a core member of the Network in Defense of Historical Truth and Academic Freedom, a founding member of Scholars for Peace, and a convener of the Women in Southeast Asian Social Sciences. The American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Democracy and Autocracy Committee selected her as an Emerging Scholar in 2020.

Walid Jumblatt Abdullah is an assistant professor at the Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme, Nanyang Technological University. He is a political scientist who works on state-religion relationships, and parties and elections. He is the author of Islam in a Secular State: Muslim Activism in Singapore (Amsterdam University Press, 2021) and more than 20 journal articles. He is currently working on a project investigating the contemporary Muslim ideological trends in Southeast Asia. He hosts Teh Tarik With Walid, an online political show where he talks to politicians/political influencers in a bid to make politics accessible to the masses.