Sophie Lemière

Adjunct Fellow (Non-resident), Southeast Asia Program
Expertise: Asia
Associated Programs: Southeast Asia Program

Sophie Lemière is a political anthropologist and an associate fellow at The History Workshop at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She is a former non-residential fellow for the Democracy in Hard Places Initiative at the Ash Center for Democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School (May 2018-May 2020). Sophie has also been a visiting fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center (2020), National Endowment for Democracy (2020), Southeast Asia Center at the University of Kyoto (2019), and Weatherhead Center at Harvard (2018). In 2014, she received her Ph.D. from Sciences Po in Paris. Her thesis was the first study on the political role of gangs through umbrella nongovernmental organizations in Malaysia. In 2007, her master’s research on the apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society was awarded the second prize for international young scholar from the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden. She has held research positions at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in 2011 and then at the Asia Research Institute in 2012 and has been a visiting fellow at the University of Sydney; Cornell University; University of California, Berkeley; and Columbia University. She was awarded the postdoctoral fellowship at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in 2017-2018 and subsequently the NUS-Stanford Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellowship in Contemporary Southeast Asia in 2018-2019 and a visiting senior fellowship at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University. Sophie’s current work explore on the intangible elements of politics, including the conjunction of political imaginary and legitimacy, charisma and personality politics, the evolution of political imaginary, the constructions of political and national narratives, the role of emotions in politics, etc. Her work explores questions rarely touched on in the field of Malaysian studies and contributes to larger debates in social sciences (sociology, political sciences and anthropology, philosophy, etc.).