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The Australian National University

Dr Nick Cheesman

PhD (ANU), MEd (Hons) (UWA), BCom, GDipEd (Melbourne)
Fellow, Department of Political & Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs (Room 4.11, Hedley Bull Building)
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
  • Political Theory And Political Philosophy 160609

Research interests

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


Currently I hold an Australian Research Council grant to document where, when and how torture occurs in Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. Through this research, I aim to reinterpret the relationship between torture and the state, and ultimately, answer the question of whether torture can ever be eliminated, or merely suppressed. For the 2016-17 US academic year I am working on this project at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. 

The study follows my doctoral dissertation on the politics of law and order in Myanmar, which in 2013 was awarded the ANU's Crawford Prize for academic excellence, and the prize of the Asian Studies Association of Australia for best thesis on Asia. In 2015 Cambridge University Press published a book building on the dissertation, Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order

Before coming to the ANU in 2008, 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 welcome inquiries from current or potential research students. I also welcome recommendations for books to feature on the Southeast Asian Studies channel of the New Books Network, which I host (link at bottom of page). 

Awarded: Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, Australian Research Council, 2015 (for 2016-2018); 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; Member: Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2016-17; Fellow: Higher Education Academy (UK); Editorial board member: Law and Social Inquiry, Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Article 2; Host: New Books in Southeast Asian Studies podcast 


Projects and Grants

Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  29 March 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers