Special Seminar by Dr. Serhat Ünaldi on August 28

Title: The Rise and Fall of Charismatic Leaders: Donald Trump, King Bhumibol and Vajiralongkorn

Speaker: Dr. Serhat Ünaldi, Senior Manager Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Federation of German Industries (BDI)

Date & Time: August 28th (Mon.) 2017, 14:00 – 15:30

Venue: Tonan-tei (Room No. 201) on the 2nd floor of Inamori Foundation Memorial Building, CSEAS, Kyoto University

Moderator: Dr. Pavin Chachavalpongpun, CSEAS, Kyoto University

Donald Trump is an utter failure as a president. Bearing this in mind, it is remarkable that he still enjoys substantial support from people who seem blind to the absurdities on Trump’s Twitter feed. Powerful men like Anthony Scaramucci choose Trump over their families and over their moral convictions for the sake of being close to the president. The same can be said for King Vajiralonkorn and his followers. Not exactly a successful demigod-king by most measures, he is nevertheless surrounded by courtiers who willingly fulfil the most rediciulous royal requests and who close their eyes to even the weirdest excentricities. As in the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, the supporters of Trump and Rama X applaud their nude kings. And they attack anyone who dares to point out that the Emperor is, in fact, naked. Dr. Serhat Ünaldi’s talk will explore why and how leaders like Trump and Vajiralongkorn maintain their power. The concept of charismatic leadership will be explained with reference to Vajiralongkorn’s father, King Bhumibol. But whereas the deceased Thai King enjoyed a long and stable charismatic reign, it is almost certain that the orange narcissist in the White House and the crop-top-wearing long-term tourist at Lake Starnberg will meet their political demise sooner rather than later.

About the speaker:
Dr. Serhat Ünaldi is the author of “Working towards the Monarchy: The Politics of Space in Downtown Bangkok”, published in 2016 by University of Hawai’i Press. The book explores the role of the monarchy in Thailand by looking at urban space, royal landholdings and spatial practices. “Working towards the Monarchy” was recently awarded the “ICAS Book Prize 2017 Ground Breaking Matter Accolade”. The reading committee praised the study as “a major contribution, relevant not only to those interested in Thailand but also to political scientists studying the phenomenon monarchy”.