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The Australian National University

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

Populism; corruption; modernization; 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, The Populists: From Antiquity to the Age of Trump extends my work on populism across democratic history.

Other 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

Populism in Southeast Asia, Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

The Populists: 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.

"Populists and Press Freedom," under review.

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

"The Origins of Ethnic Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa," (with Nicolas Bichay and Christian Houle).


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, Associate 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.


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Updated:  14 December 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers