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

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 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). I host the Southeast Asian Studies channel (with Patrick Jory) and Interpretive Social Science series on the New Books Network, and edit the ASAA Southeast Asian Publications Series (NUS Press) (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.

In 2020 I will teach Meaning in Politics (POLS2137) and Interpretation, Method and Critique (POLS4047/8047) with April Biccum (SPIR) and Colonialism & the Rule of Law (LAWS4309/ASIA2120) with Des Manderson (Law). I welcome inquiries from potential students of those courses, or from research students interested to discuss possible new projects. 

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); Committee member: Interpretive Methodologies & Methods @ APSA, Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars; Delegate: National Tertiary Education Union 

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, 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

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:  20 January 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers