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Duncan McCargo

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Main interests  Thailand politics
Name  Duncan McCargo
Role  Professor

Duncan McCargo Tearing Apart the Land Islam and Legitimacy in Southern

Alma mater  School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (Ph.D., M.A.) Royal Holloway (B.A.)
Institutions  University of Leeds Queen's University Belfast Kobe Gakuin University
Notable ideas  Network monarchy, Thaksinization, urbanized villagers, partisan polyvalence
Education  University of London, Royal Holloway, University of London
Books  Tearing Apart the Land: Isla, Mapping National Anxieties, Contemporary Japan, The Thaksinization of Thailand, Media and politics in Pacific Asia

thaiupdate15 duncan mccargo on moralism and the 2015 draft thai constitution

Duncan McCargo is Professor of Political Science at the University of Leeds. Since the beginning of 2015, he has held a shared appointment at Columbia University, where he is a Visiting Professor of Political Science and teaches every spring semester. McCargo is also a visiting scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University, and an associate fellow of the New-York-based Asia Society. He holds three degrees from the University of London: a First in English (Royal Holloway 1986); an MA in Area Studies (Southeast Asia) (1990); and a PhD in Politics (1993) (both graduate degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies). He has also taught at Queen's University, Belfast, and at Kobe Gakuin University, Japan. In 2006-07, he was a visiting senior research fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. He served as a distinguished visiting professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia in September 2011. During the 2015-16 academic year, he was a Visitor at the School of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.


McCargo is best known for his writing on contemporary Thailand and Asia-related topics. His work deals mainly with the nature of power: how entrenched elites seek to retain it, and how challengers seek to undermine their legitimacy.

Duncan McCargo About Us

Writings on Thailand

Duncan McCargo wwwpolisleedsacukassetsimagesstaffduncanm

McCargo's PhD thesis, The political leadership of Major-General Chamlong Srimuang was published in a revised form as a 1997 book. Since then McCargo has published several other books on Thailand. These include: Politics and the Press in Thailand (2000), a fieldwork-based study for which he spent a year embedded in the editorial rooms of several leading Thai language newspapers; Reforming Thai Politics (2002) an edited volume which has become the standard work on the political reform process of the 1990s, containing chapters by a range of leading Thai and foreign scholars and activists; and The Thaksinization of Thailand, a widely-cited analysis of the politics surrounding controversial former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, co-authored with the revisionist political economist Ukrist Pathamanand.

Duncan McCargo Duncan McCargo on the 39Power Networks39 in Thailand YouTube

Apart from his ten books, all of which have appeared in paperback, McCargo has published a number of articles in journals including Critical Asian Studies, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Democracy and New Left Review. His writings regarding the "network monarchy", a term he coined to describe King Bhumibol Adulyadej and his proxies, particularly former Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanond, have been influential among Thai academics. His was the only journal article selected by Foreign Affairs for their seven-item list of essential reading on Thai politics.

Other McCargo articles deal critically with issues such as constitutionalism, the politics surrounding Buddhism, and the role of the military. He was critical of the 2006 and 2014 military coups in Thailand. McCargo has consistently challenged mainstream assumptions in Thai studies and beyond, questioning the value of narrowly discipline-based perspectives in favour of more eclectic and empirically grounded approaches. At the same time, all of McCargo's work on Thailand and Southeast Asia forms part of his larger intellectual project on the nature of power and justice, which has a broad comparative reach.

Work on the southern Thai conflict

From 2005 to 2010, McCargo worked primarily on the violent conflict affecting Thailand’s southern border provinces, spending a year driving around the region and interviewing more than 270 informants. His southern Thai project produced three books: the edited collection Rethinking Thailand’s Southern Violence (2007), which is based on a 2006 special issue of the journal Critical Asian Studies; the research monograph Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (2008); and a second monograph, Mapping National Anxieties: Thailand's Southern Conflict in 2012. In the same year, a Thai translation of Tearing Apart the Land was published by Kobfai.

Tearing Apart the Land has been widely reviewed; Time magazine wrote, "No armchairs for this author: he researched the book by crisscrossing southern Thailand in a temperamental 1989 Mercedes, hastening back to the town of Pattani by nightfall to avoid militant booby traps. McCargo is the real McCoy."

Pacific Affairs wrote of Tearing Apart the Land: "The nuances and complexities of this argument can be obtained only by a thorough reading of the book. It is by far the best analysis to date of the complexities of life in the insurgent area." (Volume 82, No. 4 – Winter 2009/2010, pp. 740–41). In a full length review essay in London Review of Books, Joshua Kurlantzick declared, "Thailand, once known as one of the most stable democracies in Asia, is in political and economic crisis....Southern Thailand now resembles a war zone....McCargo gives a thorough explanation of why unrest began in southern Thailand, and why it has spread..." (25 March 2010). Reviewing the book in the Journal of Asian Studies (May 1010) Robert W. Hefner wrote, "McCargo has sifted through the details of this tragic conflict with extraordinary diligence and insight. The result is a small masterpiece of investigative rigor and balance.".

McCargo’s core argument is that the southern conflict is a political problem. Militants tap into local resentment concerning Bangkok’s refusal to grant the region any real say in the management of its affairs. Without some form of political compromise, the conflict may prove intractable, but a solution remains perfectly possible.

Tearing Apart the Land won the Asia Society's inaugural Bernard Schwartz Book Prize for 2009, worth US$20,000. Jury co-chair Professor Carol Gluck described it as a "vivid on-the-ground account of the Thai insurgency showing how national politics, rather than minority religion, drives the violence that is too often ascribed either to ethnicity or Islam. This is a lesson that applies not only to Southeast Asia but to many parts of the world."

Writings on other Asian countries

McCargo has also edited a book on Vietnam (2004). He is one of the very few Southeast Asia specialists to have published a well-known volume on a different part of Asia; his book Contemporary Japan (third edition 2013) is widely assigned even by Japanologists as an introductory student text, and has been translated into Malaysian, Chinese and Korean.

Writings on media and politics

Not all of McCargo’s work has been on Thailand. He has also conducted research in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Japan. His 2003 book Media and Politics in Pacific Asia, a companion volume to his Thai press book, develops a comparative argument, arguing against simply "modelling" the political role of the media, in favour of an eclectic approach emphasising the different forms of agency deployed by media actors, which he terms "partisan polyvalence". His media work has won him an audience in the field of communications studies, whose standard assumptions he regularly challenges. In 2012 he published a chapter in Comparing Media Systems: Beyond the Western World, a book edited by Dan Hallin and Paolo Mancini. The chapter contains his critical responses to their earlier comparative work on developing models for the relationship between media and politics.

Writings on religion and politics

Religion has been a central theme of McCargo's work, dating back to his doctoral research on Chamlong's links with the Santi Asoke Buddhist movement. His writings on Thai Buddhism, which he has suggested is an obstacle to, rather than an asset for processes of democratization in the country, have generated controversy in Thailand, and have been extensively challenged in two recent books by the leading scholar-monk Prayudh Payutto. His work on the southern Thai conflict dealt extensively with the role of Islam in Thailand's Malay-majority region.

Writings on justice and politics

McCargo's recent work has been primarily on issues relating to politics and justice. Between 2011 and 2014, he held a Leverhulme Trust major research fellowship to examine issues relating to justice and politics in Thailand, from which he has published a number of articles. McCargo spent 2012 conducting fieldwork in Thailand, including participant-observation in courts and police stations; his primary focus is on a number of politically-related court cases brought since 2006. He has also written critical examinations of transitional justice initiatives, both in Southeast Asia and more broadly. His theoretical approach draws on critiques of legalism and constitutionalism as applied - or mis-applied - to the solution of deep-rooted political problems or conflicts.

Urbanized villagers

In 2011, McCargo published an influential article with his former PhD student Naruemon Thabchumpon in which they coined the term "urbanized villagers", to describe the socio-economic basis of the pro-Thaksin redshirt movement. They argue that the bedrock of the redshirts comprises "poor farmers" who are really neither poor nor farmers: though legally resident in provinces of the North and Northeast, they derive most their income from selling their labor and running small businesses, often in the greater Bangkok area. Former prime minister Thaksin succeeded in capturing the loyalty of this group by persuading them that he was working on behalf of their economic and political interests. The phenomenon found in Thailand, whereby a traditional elite allied with a metropolitan middle class finds itself threatened and outnumbered by the rise of urbanized villagers, can be seen in many other countries. In another co-authored article, McCargo has compared the social structure of Thailand with that of Turkey.

Other activities

As one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary Thailand, McCargo regularly appears as a media commentator, pundit, and writer of op-ed pieces. He appears regularly in the broadcast media, especially on BBC radio and television, and his op-ed and commentary pieces have appeared in Time magazine, as well as in the Guardian Weekly, The Telegraph, The Economist, The Guardian, and The Independent, The Financial Times, The New York Times, and a dozen other newspapers around the world. He has given lengthy interviews to The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New Mandala website. Twenty-three of his students have successfully earned PhDs under his supervision at Leeds.

McCargo is cited by his undergraduate alma mater, Royal Holloway, as one of their notable alumni in the field of education.

In 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Tai Studies by Mahasarakham University in Thailand. McCargo is one of only five recipients of this degree. Other awardees have been historians Charnvit Kasetsiri and Thongchai Winichakul, anthropologist Charles Keyes, and archaeologist Srisak Vallibhotama.

McCargo has served twice as the head of the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds - one of Britain's largest political science departments. He was appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2011, nominated by the Political Studies Association.

On 12 April, McCargo made his stage debut at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He co-starred in Titanic Tales: Stories of Courage and Cowardice, a specially commissioned production commemorating the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. He co-wrote Titanic Tales with cellist Stephanie Winters.

Authored books

  • Duncan McCargo, Mapping National Anxieties: Thailand's Southern Conflict, Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2012.
  • Duncan McCargo, Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand, Ithaca NY and London: Cornell University Press, 2008 (Southeast Asian edition by NUS Press, Singapore, 2009).
  • Duncan McCargo, Contemporary Japan, (second edition) 244pp, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004 (first edition 2000; Malaysian translation published 2009).
  • Duncan McCargo, Media and Politics in Pacific Asia, 185 pp, London and New York: Routledge, 2003.
  • Duncan McCargo, Politics and the Press in Thailand: media machinations, 205 pp., London and New York: Routledge, 2000 (regional paperback edition, 300pp, Bangkok: Garuda Press 2002).
  • Duncan McCargo, Chamlong Srimuang and the New Thai Politics, 334 pp., London and New York: Hurst and St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
  • Co-authored books

  • Duncan McCargo and Ukrist Pathmanand, 277 pp, The Thaksinization of Thailand, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2005 (also published in Burmese translation).
  • Edited books

  • Duncan McCargo, Rethinking Thailand’s Southern Violence, 225pp, Singapore: NUS Press, 2007.
  • Duncan McCargo, Rethinking Vietnam, 240pp, London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Duncan McCargo, Reforming Thai Politics, 291pp, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2002.
  • Edited journal issues

  • Duncan McCargo, ‘Rethinking Thai Justice’ (themed section), Asian Studies Review, 39, 1, March 2015.
  • Tim Heppell and Duncan McCargo, ‘Toxic leadership’ special issue, Representation, 47, 3, 2011.
  • Duncan McCargo, 'Thai Buddhists and the South,' Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40, 1, February 2009.
  • Duncan McCargo, ‘Patani Merdeka: Thailand’s Southern Fire’, Critical Asian Studies, 38, 1, March 2006.
  • Selected journal articles

  • Duncan McCargo, "Peopling Thailand’s 2015 Draft Constitution", Contemporary Southeast Asia, 37, 3, 2015, pp. 329–54.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Transitional Justice and Its Discontents", Journal of Democracy, 26, 2, April 2015, pp. 5–20.
  • Duncan McCargo and Peeradej Tanruangporn, "Branding Dissent: Nitirat, Thailand’s Enlightened Jurists", Journal of Contemporary Asia, 2015, pp. 419–42.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Cambodia in 2014: Confrontation and Compromise", Asian Survey, 55, 1, 2015, pp. 207–13.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Readings on Thai Justice: A Review Essay", Asian Studies Review, 39, 1, 2015, 23–37.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Competing Notions of Judicialization in Thailand", Contemporary Southeast Asia, 36, 3, 2014, pp. 417–41.
  • Duncan McCargo and Naruemon Thabchumpon, "Wreck/Conciliation: The Politics of Truth Commissions in Thailand", Journal of East Asian Studies, 14, 3, 2014, pp. 377–404.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Cambodia in 2013: (No) Country for Old Men", Asian Survey, 54, 1, 2014, pp. 71–77.
  • Duncan McCargo, "The Changing Politics of Thailand’s Buddhist Order", Critical Asian Studies, 44, 4, 2012 pp. 627–42.
  • Duncan McCargo and Ayşe Zarakol, "Turkey and Thailand: Unlikely Twins", Journal of Democracy, 23, 3, 2012, pp. 71–79.
  • Naruemon Thabchumpon and Duncan McCargo, "Urbanized Villagers in the 2010 Thai Redshirt Protests: Not Just Poor Farmers?" Asian Survey, 51, 6, 2011, pp. 993–1018.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Toxic Thaksin? Thailand’s Troublesome Ex-premier", Representation, 47, 3, 2011, pp. 295–306.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Politics by Other Means? The Virtual Trials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal", International Affairs, 87, 3, 2011, pp. 613–627.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Informal Citizens: Graduated Citizenship in Southern Thailand", Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34, 5, 2011, pp. 833–849.
  • Duncan McCargo, "An Incomplete Change of Course: Japan’s Landmark 2009 Lower House Elections and their Aftermath", Representation, 46, 4, 2010, pp. 471–79.
  • Srisompob Jitpiromsri and Duncan McCargo, "The Southern Thai Conflict Six Years On: Insurgency, Not Just Crime’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 32, 2, August 2010, pp. 156–83.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Thailand’s Twin Fires", Survival, 52, 4, pp. 5–12, 2010.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Autonomy for Southern Thailand: Thinking the Unthinkable?" Pacific Affairs, 18, 2, June 2010, 261–281.
  • Duncan McCargo and Lee, Hyon-Suk, "Japan’s Political Tsunami: What’s Media Got to Do with It?" The International Journal of Press/Politics, April 2010, 15: 236–245
  • Duncan McCargo, "Mapping national anxieties: Thailand’s Southern conflict", RUSI Journal, 154, 3, July 2009, pp. 54–61.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Thai politics as reality TV", Journal of Asian Studies, 68, 1, February 2009, pp. 7–19.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Thai Buddhism, Thai Buddhists and the southern conflict", Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40, 1, February 2009, pp. 1–10.
  • Duncan McCargo, "The politics of Buddhist identity in Thailand’s deep south: the demise of civic religion?’ Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 40, 1, February 2009, pp. 11–32.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Thaksin and the resurgence of violence in the Thai South: network monarchy strikes back?" Critical Asian Studies, 38, 1, pp. 39–71, 2006.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Network monarchy and legitimacy crises in Thailand", The Pacific Review, 18, 4, pp. 499–519, 2005.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Cambodia: getting away with authoritarianism", Journal of Democracy, 16, 4, pp. 98–112, 2005.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Buddhism, democracy and identity in Thailand", Democratization, 11, 4, pp. 155–70, 2004.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Democracy under stress in Thaksin’s Thailand", Journal of Democracy, 13, 4, pp. 112–26, 2002.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Security, development and political participation in Thailand: alternative currencies of legitimacy", Contemporary Southeast Asia, 24, 1, pp. 50–67, 2002.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Populism and reformism in contemporary Thailand", South East Asia Research, 9, 1, pp. 89–107, 2001.
  • Sombat Chantornvong and Duncan McCargo, "Political economy of tobacco control in Thailand", Tobacco Control, 10, pp. 48–54, 2001.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Killing the messenger: The 1994 press bannings and the demise of Indonesia’s New Order", Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 4, 1, pp. 29–47, 1999.
  • Duncan McCargo, "Alternative meanings of political reform in contemporary Thailand", The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies, 13, pp. 5–30, 1998.
  • William A. Callahan and Duncan McCargo, "Vote-buying in Thailand’s Northeast: the July 1995 general election", Asian Survey, 36, 4, pp. 376–93, 1996.
  • Duncan McCargo, "The political role of the Japanese media", The Pacific Review, 9, 2, pp. 251–64, 1996.
  • Review articles

  • McCargo, Duncan (January–February 2007). "A hollow crown". New Left Review. New Left Review. II (43): 135–144.  Also published in Spanish translation.
  • References

    Duncan McCargo Wikipedia

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