Astrid Norén Nilsson

Senior Lecturer

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • South-East Asia; Cambodia; democratization; nationalism; the politics of memory; patron-clientelism; citizenship


My research sets out to offer a novel account of Cambodia’s post-conflict reconstruction politics since the 1993 reintroduction of multi-party elections. For my PhD research at the University of Cambridge, I explored the role of nationalist imaginings, discourses and narratives in Cambodia’s new political order. Based on this research, I published the monograph Cambodia’s Second Kingdom: Nation, Imagination, and Democracy (Cornell SEAP, 2016). In the book I trace out a tension between domestic elite imaginings and the formally liberal democratic framework in which they operate, and assess the implications for democratic practice. I have also published a number of journal articles which from different perspectives examine contemporary efforts by political elites to gain legitimacy in the context of historically inherited constraints, and how these have contributed to producing current political trajectories.  For my postdoctoral research, I shifted to analyse Cambodian democratisation through the lens of novel forms of democratic citizenship emerging in Southeast Asia. As part of the KITLV research project “From clients to citizens?”, I examined popular ideas of models of provision, political gift-giving, and citizen rights based on interviews with ordinary Cambodians in the aftermath of the contested 2013 elections.

Currently, my research focuses on the emergence of mass politics in Cambodia from the perspective of charismatic individuals who play an intermediary role between social movements and party politics. I seek to assess what models of citizenship are being forged on the resulting political arenas, and to map the landscape of social mobilisation in Cambodia at the intersection of individuals, social movements, and party politics.

Recent research outputs

Astrid Norén-Nilsson, 2021, In: Critical Asian Studies. 53, 1, p. 89-108

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Astrid Norén-Nilsson & Netra Eng, 2020 Sep 4, In: Politics and Governance. 8, 3, p. 109-119

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Astrid Norén-Nilsson, 2020 Jan 14, East Asia Forum.

Research output: Other contributionWeb publication/Blog post

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