Seeking to expand the domain of the political beyond normative understandings of the state, the articles in this special edition examine the performative aspects of governance and state-making in Southeast Asia. Combining historical and contemporary case studies, this collection brings together four examples of performative statecraft from Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia. The collection coheres around the analytical optic of performance, with particular emphasis on the performative repertoires developed by religious militas and non-state security groups. This analytical optic allows the contributors to gauge how such non-state groups conceive and engage with the state and its institutions, and to provide fresh insight on the performative aspects of state-making processes.