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uni'wissen 02-2015_ENG

Countless islands, separated by vast stretches of ocean – when one looks at Southeast Asia on a map, what one sees is a fragmented landscape. This image is also symbolic of the lack of uniformity that characterizes, and in some respects divides, the countries in the region. While the per capita income of Singapore is rela- tively high, Cambodia and Laos are two of the poorest countries in the world. Young democracies like Indonesia and the Philippines stand along- side the socialist one-party system of Vietnam, the absolute monarchy in Brunei, and the authori- tarian government of Myanmar. And while Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world, the Philippines are predominantly Christian and Thailand mostly Buddhist. But there is an organization that unites almost all of the countries in the region: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a so-called regional organization. It is the subject of Jürgen Rüland’s research. The Freiburg political science professor has been studying developments in Southeast Asia for more than 30 years. He is interested primarily in how the people of the member countries are allowed to participate in Diverse Alliance 24 Jürgen Rüland is studying the example of Southeast Asia to determine how international politics can become more democratic by Yvonne Troll