Associate Professor Paul Kenny

BA, MSc, MA, MPhil, PhD (Yale)
Associate Professor, 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 Associate Professor 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. 

I am interested in several areas of comparative politics and political economy including of populism, corruption, and identity politics. My research has previously been published in the British Journal of Political Science and The Journal of Politics among other journals.

My first book, Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia, and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2017) received the American Political Science Association's 2018 Robert A. Dahl Award. My second book, Populism in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2019), examines the political economy of populism in the region.

I am currently working on a book project provisionally titled: Killing Democracy: Rodrigo Duterte and the War on Drugs in the Philippines. It examines the relationships between populism, public opinion, and illiberalism surrounding the ongoing war on drugs in the Philippines.

Researcher's projects

Killing Democracy: Rodrigo Duterte and the War on Drugs in the Philippines, book manuscript in progress (with Nicole Curato and Ronald Holmes).

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

“Betraying the Heartland: Estimating the Political Cost of the British Labour Party's Asylum Seeker Immigration Policy”, (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 in Sub-Saharan Africa," (with Nicolas Bichay and Christian Houle), under review

“A New Oil War: How Indonesia's Oil Palm Boom Fuelled Violent Crime” (with Edward Aspinall and Rashesh Shrestha)


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. 

Past student projects

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

Ronald Holmes, The centrality of pork amidst weak institutions: Presidents and the persistence of particularism in post-Marcos Philippines (1986-2016), Associate Supervisor (2013-19), ANU.

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Updated:  02 April 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers