Astrid Norén Nilsson
Associate senior lecturer
Astrid Norén-Nilsson is an Associate Senior Lecturer at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University since 2016. She received her Ph.D. in Politics & International Studies (2013) from the University of Cambridge, U.K., where she was a Gates Scholar. She was a research fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), Leiden, the Netherlands, 2013-15. Her scholarship focuses on the politics of Cambodia in the post-conflict reconstruction era (1993 -).
She is the author of the monograph Cambodia’s Second Kingdom: Nation, Imagination, and Democracy (Cornell SEAP, 2016). The book was shortlisted for EuroSEAS Social Science Book Prize 2017, with the motivation "Astrid Noren-Nilsson’s Cambodia's Second Kingdom: Nation, Imagination, and Democracy (Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program 2016) is a thought-provoking book about Cambodia’s politics that is highly original in its approach, and grounded in some remarkable research, including numerous interviews with prominent figures. Noren-Nilsson explores notions of monarchy and politics that resonate well beyond the Cambodian case. Highlights include a wonderful chapter on prime minister Hun Sen’s appropriation of the Sdech Kan narrative to identify himself with a sixteenth-century commoner who briefly occupied the Khmer throne; as well as an extended discussion of the rise and fall of the royalist political party FUNCINPEC, which won the 1993 post-UNTAC election but within two decades had been practically wiped out by Hun Sen’s CPP. Cambodia’s Second Kingdom throws new analytical light on Cambodian politics and is essential reading for all serious students of the country." See here for more information
She has published on themes related to the development of Cambodia’s fragile democracy, addressing in particular the role of nationalist imaginings in shaping the era of multi-party elections, as well as the role of transforming perceptions of the current neopatrimonial order and of citizenship. Her research interests include democratic change, nationalism, the politics of memory, and emerging notions of citizenship and social change in South-East Asia.
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.
Astrid teaches on the courses “Political Systems, Governance and Democracy in Asia” and “Contemporary South-East Asian Societies” for the Masters Programme in Asian Studies. Additionally, she supervises Masters theses.
She has taught Southeast Asian Politics as a tutor and Conflict & Peacebuilding as a guest lecturer at the University of Cambridge between 2010 and 2013.
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