Skip to main content

Duncan McCargo

I first travelled to Thailand as an undergraduate student, on a backpacking trip that changed the course of my life: the September 1985 coup attempt during my visit piqued my interest in the politics of the country. I ended up spending several years in Thailand, becoming fluent in Thai and writing a PhD thesis about Thai politics. Along the way, I became fascinated by political power: how do people gain power, how do they exercise power, and how do they lose power?

I'm Duncan McCargo, President's Chair in Global Affairs at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, where I'm also a professor of English. I previously taught at Leeds for many years, and am still a visiting professor here. I held a shared appointment as a visiting professor of political science at Columbia University from 2015 to 2019, teaching alternate semesters in New York and Yorkshire; and served as director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen between 2019 and 2023.

I work mainly (though not solely) on the politics of Thailand, broadly defined, about which I've published nine books, over fifty journal articles and twenty-seven chapters. My publications are listed on ORCID (0000-0002-4352-5734) and here as a document, which also includes my podcasts, photo essays and op-eds. My work is all about academic collaborations: eighteen students have written their PhDs on Thailand's politics under my supervision, and I have co-authored twenty-two Thailand-related publications (including two books) with fourteen different Thai colleagues.

Under the Projects tab on this site you can read about my previous research, including my latest books (on the Future Forward Party and the politics of the Thai justice system) and my articles on the 2019 and 2023 Thai elections.

My current book project - working title Generation Thailand - looks at the politics of Thailand through the lens of generational contestation. Some of the interviewees and ideas to be featured in the book will appear on my podcast Talking Thai Politics.

I took most of the photographs on this site, apart from the two 1995 portraits of me by John McDermott; and a couple of 2004 images (Thaksin and Tak Bai) that I purchased from a journalist from the Deep South, who asked not to be credited. My photography has been published in Asia Times, the New York Times, and Nikkei Asia, as well as in various books and academic journals. These days I shoot mainly with a Leica Q2 Monochrom.

You can find many of my recent publications on this site, but if you need copies of anything, or have any questions, please contact me at, or