I am Professor in the Institute for Humanities & Social Sciences at the Australian Catholic University. I received my PhD in political science from Yale University, and I have degrees in economics and political economy from Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics. I previously worked at the Australian National University, where I remain a Visiting Fellow.

My research is concerned with the economic roots of political order and political behavior. I have written on several subjects within this theme, including the political economy of populism, corruption, and identity politics. 

My first book, Populism and Patronage: Why Populists Win Elections in India, Asia, and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2017), which won the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Robert A. Dahl Award, shows how the disruption of political patronage networks leads to the electoral success of populist candidates. A second book, Populism in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2019), examines the political economy of populism in the region. My research has been published in the British Journal of Political Science and The Journal of Politics among other journals. 

I am currently working on two book projects, Buying Power: The Economics of Populism from Ancient Greece to the Present, which examines the economic foundations of populism across democratic history, and Killing Democracy: Rodrigo Duterte and the War on Drugs in the Philippines (with Nicole Curato and Ronald Holmes), which explores the relationships between popular concerns over crime, charismatic leadership, and democracy in the Philippines.

HiCN Working Papers Series


Commodity Booms, Conflict, and Organized Crime The Economics of Oil Palm Mafia Violence in Indonesia

Paul Kenny,  Rashesh Shrestha Edward Aspinall

This paper examines the relationships between agrarian commodity booms and the incidence of group conflict and criminality in the context of Indonesia’s expanding oil palm […]


Organizational Weapons: Explaining Cohesion in the Military

Paul Kenny, 

Cohesion is defined as the creation and maintenance of cooperative effort towardsthe attainment of the organization’s goals. This paper argues that existing theories of cohesion in […]