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 


I hold an Australian Research Council grant to study torture 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). Earlier I worked in Hong Kong with a regional human rights group; convened a people’s tribunal on food scarcity and militarization in Myanmar, and lived and worked in a refugee camp in Thailand.

I teach Interpretation, Method and Critique (POLS4047/8047), with April Biccum. I welcome inquiries from potential students of that course or from research students interested to discuss possible new projects. I also welcome tips on books to feature on the Southeast Asian Studies channel of the New Books Network, which I co-host, and inquiries about publishing in the ASAA Southeast Asian Publications Series (NUS Press), which I edit with Ed Aspinall. 

From July to December 2019 I am based at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, and at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto.

Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2016-17; Visiting Scholar, American Bar Foundation, Chicago, 2017; Awarded: 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)

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 ThailandSai Kham Maung (PhD, ANU, supervisor & chair) Ethnic politics and democratization in Myanmar, Lazum Lone Wah (PhD, Mahidol University, external advisor), Polina Polianskaja (PhD, ANU, supervisor & chair) An ethnography of (in)justice and law in Myanmar women's lives, 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

2019: Gerard 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.

Return to top

Updated:  17 July 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers