Ben Kerkvliet

Emeritus Professor


BA (Whitman), MA, PhD (Wisconsin), FAHA

Contact details

Biographical statement

Growing up in a small town on the plains of Montana (USA), Ben was surrounded by working class relatives and friends for whom political discussion and debate were part of life. That background helps to account for his research interests until today. After graduating from the local public high school, he earned degrees at Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington) and the University of Wisconsin (Madison), then taught for nearly twenty years at the University of Hawai’i (Honolulu) before joining the ANU in 1992.

Research interests

Comparative politics; Southeast Asia; Asian studies.

Fascinated with how ordinary people deal with big pressures on their lives, Ben has emphasized research on agrarian politics in Southeast Asia. Closely related is his study of interactions between ordinary people and authorities or other elites. He is currently researching local reactions to major recent national policies in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Key publications

•Speaking Out in Vietnam: Public Political Criticism in a Communist Party-Ruled Nation, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2019.

•The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines, University of California Press, 1977. Republished by Rowman & Littlefield in 2002. New edition, with a Foreword by Benjamin Pimentel, published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2014.

•Everyday Politics in the Philippines: Class and Status Relations in a Central Luzon Village, University of California Press, 1990. Republished by Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. New edition, with a Foreword by Saturnino M. Borras, Jr., published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2013.

•Land Struggles and Land Regimes in the Philippines and Vietnam during the 20th Century, CASA, Amsterdam, 1997.

•The Power of Everyday Politics: How Vietnamese Peasants Transformed National Policy, Cornell University Press, 2005.

Recent publications

•’Regime Critics: Democratization Advocates in Vietnam, 1990s-2014”, Critical Asian Studies, vol. 47 (2015), no. 3, pp. 359-387.

•“Government Repression and Toleration of Dissidents in Contemporary Vietnam,” in Politics in Contemporary Vietnam, edited by Jonathan London (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 100-134. Table 1 for Government Repression and Toleration of Dissidents in Contemporary Vietnam [PDF 310kB]

•”Protests over Land in Vietnam: Rightful Resistance and More,” Journal of Vietnamese Studies, vol. 9 (Summer 2014): 19-54.

•”Democracy and Vietnam,” in Routledge Handbook on Southeast Asian Democratization, edited by William Case (London: Routledge, 2014), 426-41.

•“Workers’ Protests in Contemporary Vietnam (with Some Comparisons to those in the Pre-1975 South),” Journal of Vietnamese Studies, 5:1 (2010): 162-204. Republished with some revisions as “Workers’ Protests in Contemporary Vietnam,” in Labour in Vietnam, edited by Anita Chan (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011), 160-210.

•“Everyday Politics in Peasant Societies (and Ours),” Journal of Peasant Studies, 36:1 (2009): 227-43. Reprinted in Critical Perspectives in Rural Development Studies, pp. 215-31, edited by Saturnino M. Borras Jr. (London: Routledge, 2010)

•“Governance, Development, and the Responsive-Repressive State in Vietnam,” Forum for Development Studies 37 (March 2010): 33-60.

•“A Different View of Insurgencies,” in In Search of a Human Face: 15 Years of Knowledge Building for Human Development in the Philippines (Quezon City: Human Development Network, 2010), 268-79.

•“Southeast Asia,” in R.A.W. Rhodes, ed., The Australian Study of Politics (England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 257-67.

Career highlights

Faculty member, University of Hawaii (1971-91); faculty member, ANU (1992-present); working with industrious graduate students; various fellowships and awards for research and teaching; and living in and doing research in the Philippines and Vietnam.

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