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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

R. William Liddle

Mershon faculty affiliate R. William Liddle, professor emeritus of political science, has won the Anugerah Kebudayaan (Culture Award) from the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

The award is given each year to foreigners in the social, political, economic, law, culture, and science fields concerning Indonesia, and other fields that have great benefit for the nation and state of Indonesia.

Liddle won the award for his scholarship about Indonesian politics as well as his mentorship as a doctoral dissertation advisor for Indonesian scholars. His research focuses on political leadership, voting behavior, and popular attitudes toward Islamic politics in Indonesia.

“This is a wonderful honor for Bill, and very well deserved,” said Christopher Gelpi, director of the Mershon Center. “Bill has spent a lifetime creating and fostering scholarship about Indonesia, and we are very pleased to see the government of Indonesia recognize his work.”

Liddle began working in Indonesia as a graduate student in 1962, where he taught at the Social Science Research Training Center at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh from 1985-87. He also served as a USAID consultant, helping to shape policy that strengthened the relationship between Indonesia and the United States.

At Ohio State University, Liddle taught courses on Indonesian politics from his appointment in 1965 to his retirement in 2011. There he mentored a long list of Indonesian doctoral students including Mohtar Mas'oed, Makarim Wibisono, Salim Said, the late Afan Gaffar, Bahtiar Effendy, Rizal Mallarangeng, Denny JA, Saiful Mujani, Dinna Wisnu, Kuskridho Ambardi, Yohanes Sulaiman, and Jayadi Hanan.

Liddle has been recognized as Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher by the Department of Political Science and Outstanding International Faculty Member by the Office of Academic Affairs. In Indonesia, a book of essays was published in his honor: Dari Columbus Untuk Indonesia: 70 Tahun Prof Bill Liddle Dari Murid dan Sahabat [From Columbus for Indonesia: 70 years of Prof Bill Liddle from Students and Friends] (Gramedia, Freedom Institute and Nalar Publishers, 2008).

Liddle has served as chair of the Indonesia Committee and Southeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, and as assistant editor for Southeast Asia of the Association's Journal of Asian Studies. He is a recipient, with Thomas Pepinsky and Saiful Mujani, of the Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award for best paper presented at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Toronto in 2009. From 1998 to 2015 he served on the editorial board of Asian Survey.

Liddle writes for the international and Indonesian media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Jakarta daily Kompas and Indonesian newsweekly Tempo. He has appeared frequently on the PBS News Hour and on many U.S., European, Australian and Indonesian television and radio programs.

Among Liddle’s important scholarly works about Indonesia are:

  • Voting Behavior in Indonesia since Democratization: Critical Democrats, with Saiful Mujani and Kuskridho Ambardi (Cambridge University Press, 2018).
  • Piety and Public Opinion: Understanding Islam and Political Behavior, with Thomas Pepinsky and Saiful Mujani (Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • Memperbaiki Mutu Demokrasi di Indonesia: Sebuah Perdebatan [Improving the Quality of Democracy in Indonesia: a Debate] (Yayasan Wakaf Paramadina, 2012).
  • Kuasa Rakyat [People Power], with Saiful Mujani and Kuskridho Ambardi (Mizan, 2012), the first individual-level study of Indonesian voting behavior based on surveys conducted from 1999 to the present.
  • Political Entrepreneurs and Development Strategies: Southeast Asian Cases and Comparisons (Flinders University, 1991).
  • Politics and Culture in Indonesia (University of Michigan, 1988).
  • Ethnicity, Party, and National Integration: An Indonesian Case Study (Yale University Press, 1970).

Criteria for winning the Culture Award include extraordinary service that has benefited the progress, welfare, and prosperity of Indonesia; devotion and sacrifice that has greatly benefited the people and state of Indonesia; activities and contributions that exemplify a pioneering spirt and demonstrate a high commitment to develop or preserve Indonesian culture; and forging cooperation with institutions that preserve and develop Indonesian culture.

Liddle shares this year’s Culture Award with two others: Valarie Martani, an Italian activist on peace and religion connecting Islam and Catholicism, and Leo Suryadinata, a scholar from Singapore who writes about Sino-Indonesians.