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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


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.

The study follows my doctoral dissertation on the politics of law and order in Myanmar, which in 2013 was awarded the ANU's university prize in social science and the humanities. 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

I convene the Myanmar (Burma) Update Conference at the ANU, and host the Southeast Asian Studies channel on the New Books Network. I also convene the Research Design and Writing (ASIA9075) course for research students in the Bell School, and teach undergraduate courses on internal security in the Asia-Pacific (STST2002) and from 2016, human rights in Asia (ASIA2081, with Tyrell Haberkorn). I welcome inquiries from students thinking about taking any of those courses, as well as from current or potential research students.

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.

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; 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 

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:  25 November 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers