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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)



Tomas Larsson is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of St John’s College. He received a PhD in Government from Cornell University in 2007. From 1990 to 2000, he worked as a freelance journalist based in Southeast Asia. As an undergraduate, he studied East and Southeast Asian Studies and Thai at Lund University, Sweden.


Thai politics; state formation; political economy; Buddhism and politics.

Research Supervision

Dr Larsson welcomes postgraduate applications on topics relating to Southeast Asian politics in general and the politics of Thailand in particular. He is particularly interested in research projects that focus on state formation, Buddhism and politics, democratisation, economic development, and political liberalism in Southeast Asia. He has supervised MPhil and PhD theses on a wide range of topics, including Cambodian nationalism; constitutionalism in Thailand and Japan; central banking in Thailand; the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia; opposition politics in Malaysia; political culture in Singapore; social movements in Thailand; sex trafficking in Cambodia; ASEAN and human rights; Malaysian foreign policy; Singaporean foreign policy; ethnic violence in Indonesia; the Rohingya refugee crisis.


Key publications: 

▪   ‘The political economy of state patronage of religion: Evidence from Thailand.’ International Political Science Review 40:4 (2019), pp. 576–90.

▪   ‘Buddhist bureaucracy and religious freedom in Thailand.’ Journal of Law and Religion 33:2 (2018), pp. 197–211.

▪   ‘In search of liberalism: Ideological traditions, translations, and troubles in Thailand.’ Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 32:3 (2017), pp. 531–61.

▪   ‘Who catches the biotech train? Understanding diverging political responses to GMOs in Southeast Asia.’ The Journal of Peasant Studies 43:5 (2016), pp. 1068–94.
▪   ‘Monkish politics in Southeast Asia: Religious disenfranchisement in comparative and theoretical perspective.’ Modern Asian Studies 49:1 (2015): 40–82.

▪   ‘The strong and the weak: Ups and downs of state capacity in Southeast Asia.’ Asian Politics & Policy 5:3 (2013): 337–358.

▪   Land and loyalty: Security and the development of property rights in Thailand (Cornell University Press, 2012).

▪   ‘Western imperialism and defensive underdevelopment of property rights institutions in Siam.’ Journal of East Asian Studies 8:1 (2008): 1–28.

▪   ‘Intertextual relations: The geopolitics of land rights in Thailand.’ Political Geography 26:7 (2007): 775–803.


For a full list of scholarly publications, please go to:

Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies
University Teaching Officer
St John's College
Office Hours: Appointment by email
Dr  Tomas  Larsson

Contact Details
01223 767 258