“A significant deterioration of the political environment”: an interview with Michael Vatikiotis

How did you come to write Blood and Silk? What inspired you to write this longer journey through your time in Southeast Asia?

In many ways, it’s premature. I’m nowhere near close to retirement or the end of my journey in Southeast Asia. But I did feel, perhaps instinctively, that the time was right to distill a number of explanations that I increasingly felt were important to elaborate, given the circumstances in the region.

The last two to three years have seen a significant deterioration of the political environment, after years of optimism—the rise of identity politics, the rise of income equality. What particularly moved me was the perpetual, seeming ceaseless conduct of violent internal conflict and a sense that the region was becoming increasingly exposed to geopolitical currents.

Packing all that together, I felt that it was a timely opportunity to look at the region from this thematic perspective and to draw conclusions about not just where the region is at the moment, but where it might go in the future.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Michael Vatikiotis, published on the Asian Review of Books on September 12th, 2017. The full interview can be found here.