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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; interpretive social science 


Currently I hold an Australian Research Council grant to study torture in mainland Southeast Asia. The study follows my doctoral dissertation, published as Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order (Cambridge UP). Before coming to the ANU, I worked in Hong Kong with a regional human rights group. Earlier I convened a people’s tribunal on food scarcity and militarization in Myanmar. And I lived and worked in a refugee camp in Thailand.

I look forward to inquiries from potential research students, especially but not only about law-and-society projects on Myanmar or Thailand. I also welcome recommendations for books to feature on the Southeast Asian Studies channel of the New Books Network, which I host. 

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2016-17; Visiting Scholar, American Bar Foundation, 2017; Awarded: Distinguished Book Award, Asian Law & Society Association, 2017; Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, 2015; President’s Prize, ASAA, 2013; JG Crawford Prize (ANU) 2013; Commendation for Contribution to Student Learning, ANU, 2012; ANU College of Asia & the Pacific “Wattle Oscar”, 2012; VC’s Scholarship, ANU, 2008; FG Bradshaw Prize (UWA), 2003; Fellow: Higher Education Academy (UK); Editorial board member: Law and Social InquiryHague Journal on the Rule of Law

Current student projects

Ana Alonso (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor) Children born of war in Peru and Guatemala, James Bean (PhD, ANU, advisor) Jawi-Malay grievances and perspectives on local conflict in Southern Thailand, Jay Karunakaren (B Asian Studs Hons, ANU, supervisor), Sai Kham Maung (PhD, ANU, primary supervisor & chair) Ethnic politics and democratization in Myanmar, Lazum Lone Wah (PhD, Mahidol University, external advisor), Gerard McCarthy (PhD, ANU, advisor) Framing contentious politics; Who makes political cleavages in Myanmar's transition? Tasfi Sal-sabil (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor), Kristina Simion (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor) Rule of law assistance in an authoritarian regime: Intermediary actors in Myanmar’s transition, Sirichinda Thongchinda (PhD, ANU, chair), Justinas Stankus (PhD, Ghent & Vilnius Universities, external advisor), Wong Kai Shing (PhD, Mahidol University, external advisor), Catherine Yen (PhB Hons, ANU, supervisor)

Past student projects

Eve Warburton (PhD, ANU, 2018, advisor) Our resources, our rules: A political economy of resource nationalism in Indonesia, Jacqueline Menager (PhD, ANU, 2018, associate supervisor) Myanmar's new generation: a study of elite young people in Yangon, 2010 to 2016, Chit Win (PhD, ANU, 2017, advisor) Explaining Myanmar’s Hluttaw, 2011-2016: Transitional legitimacy and the politics of legislative autonomyAlice Dawkins (LLB Hons, ANU, 2017, advisor) Nevertheless, they persisted: Myanmar’s political lawyers, Tamas Wells (PhD, Melbourne, 2016, external advisor) Myanmar’s other struggles for democracy: Narratives and conceptual contest in the Burmese democracy movementTushira Wickramariyaratne (M Nat Sec Policy Hons, ANU, 2017, advisor)


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Updated:  25 September 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers