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)
College of Asia & the Pacific
T: +61 2 6125 0181

Areas of expertise

  • Law And Society 180119
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Political Theory And Political Philosophy 160609

Research interests

political order, the rule of law, the state, sovereignty, authority, power, impunity, human rights, torture; Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, South and Southeast Asia; interpretivism, empirical political theory, hierarchies of credibility, politics of knowledge production


I hold an Australian Research Council grant to study the relation of torture to political order in mainland Southeast Asia. The study follows my doctoral and early post-doctoral research, published as Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar’s Courts Make Law and Order (Cambridge UP, 2015). I host the Southeast Asian Studies channel (with Patrick Jory and Faizah Zakaria) and Interpretive Social Science series on the New Books Network, and edit the ASAA Southeast Asian Publications Series (NUS Press) (with Ed Aspinall). 

I teach Human Rights in Asia (ASIA2081); Colonialism & the Rule of Law (LAWS4309/ASIA2120) with Des Manderson (Law), and Meaning in Politics (POLS2137) and Interpretation, Method and Critique (POLS4047/8047) with April Biccum (SPIR). Potential students of those courses, or research students interested to discuss possible new projects, please get in touch. I am also the NTEU delegate for the Coral Bell School, and welcome inquiries from academic and professional staff (whether union members or not) on workplace matters. 

Visting positions: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University & Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, 2019; Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2016-17; American Bar Foundation, Chicago, 2017; Awards: Distinguished Book Award, Asian Law & Society Association, 2017; Discovery Early Career Research Award, 2015; President’s Prize, Asian Studies Association of Australia, 2013; JG Crawford Prize, ANU, 2013; Commendation for Contribution to Student Learning, ANU, 2012; VC’s Scholarship, ANU, 2008; Bradshaw Prize, University of Western Australia, 2003; Fellow: Higher Education Academy, UK; Editorial board member: Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, Law & Social Inquiry (2016-18); Committee member: Interpretive Methodologies & Methods @ APSA, Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars

Current student projects

Heba Al Adawy (PhD, ANU, supervisor & chair) Understanding Youth Development and Political Engagement in Pakistani Higher Education Institutes, Ana Alonso (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor) Children born of war in Peru and Guatemala, James Bean (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor) Jawi-Malay grievances and perspectives on local conflict in Southern Thailand, Oliver Friedmann (PhB Hons, ANU, supervisor) Apprehending transfer: a study of the Australian and Sri Lankan response to unauthorised maritime arrivals, Samuel Hmung (MPolSci, ANU, supervisor) Power-sharing in Myanmar, Polina Polianskaja (PhD, ANU, supervisor & chair) An ethnography of (in)justice and law in Myanmar women's lives, Nick Ross (PhD, ANU, supervisor & chair), Tasfi Sal-sabil (PhD, ANU, associate supervisor), Sirichinda Thongchinda (PhD, ANU, chair) Cohabitation in Thai political life: Ethical obligations and emotions in motion, Wong Kai Shing (PhD, Mahidol University, external advisor) Political patronage and police reform: A case study of Thailand, 1992-2006

Past student projects

2019Gerard McCarthy (PhD, ANU, advisor); 2018: Catherine Yen (PhB Hons, ANU, supervisor), Kristina Simion (PhD, ANU, advisor), Eve Warburton (PhD, ANU, advisor), Jaqueline Menager (PhD, ANU, advisor); 2017Chit Win (PhD, ANU, advisor), Tushira Wickramariyaratne (M Nat Sec Policy Hons, ANU, advisor), Alice Dawkins (LLB Hons, ANU, advisor); 2016: Tamas Wells (PhD, Melbourne, advisor)


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  30 September 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers