Duncan McCargo

Duncan McCargo


Duncan McCargo is Professor of Political Science at the University of Leeds, where he has twice chaired one of Britain’s largest political science departments, and successfully supervised 26 PhD students to completion. He currently teaches each Spring semester at Columbia. Best known for his agenda-setting contributions to current debates on the politics of Thailand, his work is also centrally concerned with the nature of power. How do entrenched elites seek to retain power in the face of challenges from new political forces? How do challengers to state power try to undermine the legitimacy of existing regimes? These interests have led him to study a range of questions, including the role of media, sub-national conflicts, and the politics of justice.

McCargo has spent several years in Thailand, and has also lived in Singapore, taught in Belfast, Cambodia and Japan, and published on Indonesia and Vietnam. Time magazine wrote of his work ‘No armchairs for this author… McCargo is the real McCoy.’ His books include Politics and the Press in Thailand: Media Machinations (2000), Reforming Thai Politics (edited, 2002) Media and Politics in Pacific Asia (2003), Rethinking Vietnam (edited, 2004), The Thaksinization of Thailand (co-authored, 2005), and Mapping National Anxieties: Thailand’s Southern Conflict (2012). His ninth book, Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell, 2008) won the Asia Society's inaugural Bernard Schwartz Book Prize for 2009. McCargo has published over ninety journal articles and book chapters: his 2005 Pacific Review article on Thailand’s “network monarchy” is one of the most influential pieces ever published on the country’s politics. He is a co-founder of the New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN), a nonprofit initiative based at Columbia and funded by the Luce Foundation; for more details, see www.nysean.org

McCargo appears regularly on BBC radio and television, has written commentaries for publications including the Daily Telegraph, The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, The Independent, New York Times, Time and Financial Times and is frequently cited in both print and online media. He often briefs senior UN and government officials, and has twice testified (in Thai) before parliamentary committees in Bangkok. For 2015–16 he was a Visitor in the School of Social Science, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. McCargo currently holds a grant from the United States Institute of Peace to examine peace messaging in the 2019 Thai elections.


Courses Taught