Doctor Arjun Subrahmanyan

Lecturer - South East Asian History

About me

I teach South East Asian history, and joined Murdoch after teaching in the US at Utah State University (Logan, Utah) and Binghamton University (Binghamton, NY). I received a PhD in History from the University of California-Berkeley in 2013. My research specialises in South East Asian, and specifically Thai, history.

Teaching area

At Murdoch, I’ve taught:

(2015) HIS200, Approaches to History, with a focus on modern imperialism.

In 2016 I am teaching HIS334, The Vietnam Wars and also a History Honours seminar, and HIS200 again.

In 2017 I will offer a course on Modern Southeast Asian History.

Research areas

My main research interests are in socio-political and intellectual change in modern Southeast Asian History, and in Thailand/Siam especially. I am interested in the localisation of Western-derived ideas and practices associated with modernity, including: democratic politics; the new relation of country to city in the modern state; poverty, progress and capitalism; an intellectual bifurcation of a materialist West and spiritual East; and revolutions and universal history.

Current projects

My current project studies the ambiguous 1932 “revolution” that ended the absolute monarchy in Siam/Thailand and introduced constitutional democracy. While ostensibly staged to achieve popular sovereignty, the 1932 revolution restricted power to a new elite and frustrated wide swathes of middle class society who took democracy seriously as a popular movement. The tensions unleashed by the 1932 movement, as the events of recent years have made abundantly clear, still powerfully shape Thai society.



  • Subrahmanyan, A., (2017), Buddhism, Democracy and Power in the 1932 Thai Revolution, Asian Studies Review, 41, 1, pages 40 - 57.
  • Subrahmanyan, A., (2015), Fiction and social consciousness in interwar Siam. Thai elite culture in crisis and transition, South East Asia Research, 23, 4, pages 567 - 580.