Sophie Lemiere

Photo credit: Roy Searcey

Sophie Lemiere is a Political Anthropologist and a Malaysia specialist. She is currently Associate Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at Nottingham University, Malaysia and at the Center for Strategic Research and International Studies (CSIS), in Washington DC.

In 2014, she received her PhD from Sciences-Po, France. Her thesis was the first study on the political role of gangs through umbrella NGOs in Malaysia. In 2007, her Masters research on the apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society was awarded the second prize for International Young Scholar from the ISIM, Leiden.

Sophie is also an Associate at The Steven J.Green School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Florida International University (FIU), Miami, USA; The History Workshop, at The University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; The Fondation for Strategic Research (FRS) and The Chair of Contemporary History of the Arab World at College de France in Paris, France.

Current Project

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.

During the 2018 General Elections campaign she was given access to the inner circles of Mahathir campaign for 6 months, from nomination day to victory for her forthcoming monograph (2020). Beyond the rigorous documentation of the campaign and its intricacies from the unique perspective of the close circles of Mahathir, this book is an in-depth analysis of the re-invention of the Mahathir persona and the concept of "Legitimacy" in Malaysia and beyond.

Research Philosophy

Sophie believes it is essential for academics to disseminate their research to a wide audience, and primarily in the countries they study. With this idea in mind, she has oriented her efforts towards the publication of original scholarship addressing both a general and academic audience within and outside of Malaysia. She is the editor of a series “Malaysian Politics and People”: the first volume Misplaced Democracy was released in 2014, the second volume Illusions of democracy was published in 2017 and re-published in 2018 by Amsterdam University Press. The third volume of the series Minorities Matter released on 4th May 2019, see here for more information.

Sophie has made considerable efforts to give visibility to Malaysian Studies by publishing in both international academic and non-academic outlets, she contributes to publications such as New Mandala, Le Monde, Libération, Mediapart...etc.

Sophie has also started to develop several documentary projects with French production companies, including a series on the Arts and Politics. Her first film 9/43 featured the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar and was selected among the 25 best movies of the French short-film festival ‘Infracourt’ in 2016.

Past Fellowships

Sophie has been offered research opportunities in highly competitive research institutions across the globe including: the Democracy in Hard Places Initiative at the Ash Center for Democracy, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, US (May 2018-May 2020), the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Washington DC (March-August 2020), Humanities Center at Stanford University (February 2020), Center for Southeast Asia Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, the Weatherhead Center at Harvard University (2018-2019), and the Robert Schumann Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS), European University Institute (2014-2017).

Political Consultant

In 2021, Sophie founded SoCo a political consulting firm based in Kuala Lumpur and specialised in Expertise, Education and Advice for private and public entities, and government agencies. For all enquiries please send an email to .