Thomas Pepinsky, associate professor of government (GOVT).

Thomas Pepinsky

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Asia Policy Studies

Thomas Pepinsky is a professor of government at Cornell University. He specializes in comparative politics and international political economy, with a focus on emerging markets and a special interest in Southeast Asia. An active member of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell, he is also treasurer of the American Political Science Association, member of the Southeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, a member of the board of directors of the Association for Analytical Learning on Islam and Muslim Societies, and recently helped to found the Southeast Asian Research Group in order to highlight the best new contemporary research on Southeast Asian politics.

Pepinsky’s published research encompasses topics such as authoritarianism and democratization, financial politics, religion and identity in the Muslim world, and Indonesian and Malaysian politics. He is the co-author, most recently, of “Piety and Public Opinion: Understanding Indonesian Islam” (Oxford University Press, 2018, with R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani), which offers a comprehensive understanding of how individual piety shapes political and economic attitudes in the world’s largest Muslim country. His first book, “Economic Crises and the Breakdown of Authoritarian Regimes: Indonesia and Malaysia in Comparative Perspective” (Cambridge University Press, 2009), showed how the internal politics of financial crisis management in Indonesia and Malaysia led to divergent paths of economic adjustment and ultimately regime survival. His other academic publications also appear in the American Journal of Political Science, Annual Review of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Democracy, Pacific Affairs, Perspectives on Politics, Political Analysis, World Development, World Politics, and other venues. His research has been recognized with the Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award from American Political Science Association as well as the John A. Lent Prize from the Association for Asian Studies.

Pepinsky has provided commentary for National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Voice of America, Vox, and numerous other venues. He has held short-term visiting positions at the Australian National University, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and the National University of Singapore. Pepinsky also regularly blogs on Southeast Asia, political science, language, and food at tompepinsky.com.

Pepinsky’s current research agenda focuses primarily on identity, politics, and political economy in comparative and international politics.

American Institute for Indonesian Studies, past president
American Political Science Association, treasurer
Association for Analytical Learning on Islam and Muslim Societies, board of directors, member
Association for Asian Studies, Southeast Asia Council, member
Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, faculty fellow
Einaudi Center for International Studies, faculty fellow
Southeast Asia Research Group, co-convener

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Authoritarianism
    • Democratization
    • Finance
    • Identity
    • Malaysia
    • Political economy
  • Current Positions

    • Professor of Government, Cornell University
  • Past Positions

    • Assistant Professor of Political Pcience, University of Colorado (2007-2008)
  • Education

    • A.B., Linguistics and International Relations, Brown University
    • Ph.D., Political Science, Yale University
  • Languages

    • Indonesian
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