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 


My research sits at the nexus between law, violence and politics, in principle and in practice. Currently, 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 teach Interpretation, Method and Critique (POLS4047/8047), with April Biccum (CASS) and from 2020, Colonialism & the Rule of Law (ASIA2120/ASIA6120) with Des Manderson (CoL). I welcome inquiries from potential students of those courses, 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 host with Patrick Jory, as well as the Interpretive Social Science series I have started on the same network, 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); Committee member: Interpretive Methodologies & Methods @ APSA, Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars

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

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.

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Updated:  18 September 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers