SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Not a Deep State: Justice and Politics in Late-Reign Thailand

Duncan McCargo


Duncan McCargo (Professor of Political Science at the University of Leeds and Visiting Professor of Political Science at Columbia University)

Date: 14 March 2018Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 14 March 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar

This seminar has been cancelled due to UCU strike action.


In this talk, Duncan McCargo argues that justice and politics in early-twenty-first century Thailand cannot be reduced to simplistic accounts of a so-called ‘deep state’, in which the judiciary functioned as a mere instrument of royal and conservative power. As the record of Constitutional Court decisions reveals, the reality is considerably more nuanced: judges frequently sought to fudge difficult questions and adapt themselves to messy compromises and ambiguous deals done between competing political factions. His talk explores the conclusions of his forthcoming book on these questions, based on extensive interviews, documentary sources and firsthand courtroom observations conducted in Thailand.

Speaker Biography

Duncan McCargo is best known as a specialist on contemporary Thailand, where he regularly conducts extended fieldwork, but he has also worked on the nature of power in a range of other Asian countries. McCargo divides his time between Britain and New York, where he serves as a visiting professor of political science at Columbia University every spring semester. His books include Politics and the Press in Thailand (Routledge 2000), Media and Politics in Pacific Asia (Routledge 2003), The Thaksinization of Thailand (co-authored NIAS 2005), Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell 2008) (which won the inaugural 2009 Bernard Schwartz Book Prize from the Asia Society), and Mapping National Anxieties: Thailand's Southern Conflict (NIAS 2012). He was in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, 2015-16.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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