Donald K. Emmerson has, since 1999, headed the Southeast Asia Forum at Stanford University while serving as a senior fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a faculty affiliate of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. From 1972 to 1999 he was a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he won a campus-wide award for excellence in teaching.
Emmerson's recent publications include Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam (co-authored, 2009) and Hard Choices: Security, Democracy, and Regionalism in Southeast Asia (edited, 2008); chapters in Refreshing Thai-US Relations (2009) and Southeast Asia in Political Science (2008); and articles on Southeast Asia in the Journal of Democracy (2008) and Contemporary Southeast Asia (2007). Earlier publications reflect his interests in Southeast Asian politics (with particular reference to Indonesia), East Asian and Pacific regionalism, U.S. foreign policy, and the politics of language, among other subjects.
Emmerson has maintained connections to Japan since his birth in Tokyo as the son of an American diplomat (John K. Emmerson) who had three tours in Japan and entitled his autobiography The Japanese Thread . These connections have included doing fieldwork on Iki island for a monograph on artisanal fisheries in Asia; speaking to audiences in Tokyo and Kyoto among other Japanese cities; publishing in venues ranging from the Japanese Journal of Political Science to The Japan Times ; and being interviewed by NHK and Yomiuri Shimbun among other Japanese media.
In addition to serving on the boards of several scholarly journals, Emmerson holds advisory positions with the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the National Bureau of Asian Research, and the U.S. State Department. He has testified before Congress on Asian affairs; served as an election and referendum observer for the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute in Indonesia and East Timor; and consulted for the Ford Foundation and the World Bank among other organizations.
Emmerson has a Ph.D. in political science from Yale and a B.A. in international affairs from Princeton. He is fluent in Indonesian and French, and has lesser competence in several other languages. He and his wife Carolyn met in high school in Lebanon. They have two children.