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The Australian National University

Dr Nick Cheesman

PhD (ANU), MEd (Hons) (UWA), BCom, GDipEd (Melbourne)
Research Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: +61 2 6125 0181

Areas of expertise

  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Law And Society 180119
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903

Research interests

Rule of law; sovereignty; authority; power; political order; ideology; human rights; postcolonialism in South and Southeast Asia; Myanmar (Burma); Thailand


A sense of urgency to contribute towards useful, theoretically informed debate about politics in Asia shapes my research. Before coming to the Australian National University, I worked in Hong Kong with a regional organization aimed at protecting and promoting human rights. Earlier I convened a people’s tribunal on food scarcity and militarization in Myanmar, for a Thailand-based non-profit group. I also lived and worked in a refugee camp for a number of years.

I studied for a PhD at the ANU’s Department of Political and Social Change, on a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship. In 2013 my dissertation, about the politics of law and order in Myanmar, obtained both the ANU’s Crawford Prize and the ASAA (Asian Studies Association of Australia) President’s Prize. Cambridge University Press published a monograph building on the dissertation, Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order, in 2015. 

My current research agenda is concentrated on the politics of torture in Asia. I am lead convenor of the Myanmar (Burma) Update Conference, and host of the Southeast Asian Studies channel on the New Books Network. I also convene the Research Design and Writing (ASIA8075) course for higher degree research students in the Bell School, and teach undergraduate courses on comparative politics (ASIA2065) and internal security in the Asia-Pacific (STST2002). I welcome inquiries from students thinking about taking either of those courses, as well as from current or potential research students.

Awarded: President’s Prize, Asian Studies Association of Australia, 2013; J G Crawford Prize, ANU, 2013; Commendation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, ANU, 2012; ANU College of Asia & the Pacific “Wattle Oscar”, 2012; Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship, ANU, 2008; Francis George Bradshaw Prize, University of Western Australia, 2003; Fellow: Higher Education Academy (UK), ANU Research School of Asia and the Pacific; Editorial board member: Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Article 2 (published by the Asian Legal Resource Centre) 

Researcher's projects

"The politics of torture: A comparative study of Myanmar and Thailand", ANU Research School of Asia & the Pacific-funded New Research Directions project, 2015


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Updated:  11 October 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers