Dr Paul Kenny

BA (Trinity College Dublin), MSc (LSE), MA, MPhil, PhD (Yale University)
Fellow, Head of Department of Political & Social Change
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Political Science 1606
  • Comparative Government And Politics 160603
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Social Change 160805
  • Asian History 210302
  • Economic History 140203

Research interests

Comparative political economy, political order, populism; corruption; immigration; colonialism; India; Southeast Asia


I joined ANU in July 2013 and am currently a Fellow and Head of the Department of Political and Social Change. I was previously Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Trinity College Dublin (2012-13) and received my PhD in political science from Yale University in 2013. 

My research covers several areas of comparative politics including the political economy of populism, corruption, and immigration.

My first book, Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia, and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2017) demonstrates a causal link between the disruption of political patronage networks and the electoral success of populist candidates. The book received the American Political Science Association's 2018 Robert A. Dahl Award.

A second book, Populism in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming), examines the political economy of populism in the region. My current book project, Situation Normal: Populism from Antiquity to the Age of Trump extends my work on populism across democratic history.

My research has previously been published or is forthcoming in the British Journal of Political Science and The Journal of Politics among other journals.

Researcher's projects

Situation Normal: Populism from Antiquity to the Age of Trump, book manuscript in progress. 

"Does Asylum Seeker Immigration Increase Support for the Far Right? Evidence from in England and Wales 2000-2015" (with Charles Miller), under review.

"A New Penal Populism: Rodrigo Duterte, the War on Drugs, and Public Opinion in the Philippines." (with Ronald Holmes), under review

"The Origins of Inequality: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," (with Nicolas Bichay and Christian Houle) (scheduled for presentation at MPSA, 4-7 April 2019)

“Addicted to Fear: Populism and the War on Drugs in Southeast Asia,” under review.

“The New Oil Wars: The Predatory Political Economy of Palm Oil Production.” (with Edward Aspinall and Rashesh Shrestha), in progress (scheduled for presentation at AAS, Denver, 21-24 March 2019)

“Losing the Heartland: Immigration, Tipping Points, and the British Labour Party”, (with Charles Miller), in progress.

“Why do Women Support Strongmen: Evidence from the Philippines,” (with Nicole Curato and Ronald Holmes), (scheduled for presentation at the ASAA Women in Asia Conference, 21-23 June 2019).

“Ethnic inequality, cultural distance, and social trust,” (with Christian Houle and Nicholas Bichay), in progress.

Current student projects

Felix Pal, Saffron Muslims: The Improbable Support of Hindu nationalist Muslims, Primary supervisor (2017–), ANU. 

Huyen Truong, Social movement in a Leninist one-party state: the case of LGBTI activism in Vietnam, Primary supervisor (2017–), ANU. 

Damien Donavan, “A Comparative Study of Secession – Developing a Typology for Successful Secession”, Associate supervisor (2016–), ANU.

Ronald Holmes, Political economy of pork barreling in the Philippines, Associate supervisor (2015–), ANU.

Past student projects

Gerard McCarthy, For Whose Benefit? Informal institutions and distributive politics in Myanmar's transition, Associate supervisor (2015–18), ANU.


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