Dr Adam Tyson

Dr Adam Tyson


I joined the School of Politics and International Studies in 2011 after working for universities in Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia. Drawing on my international experience, I am currently involved in a number of interdisciplinary research projects with colleagues in the UK as well as the Asia Pacific, and I am responsible for the POLIS internationalisation agenda that builds research and education links with partners overseas.

My primary research agenda is to investigate the ways in which political actors test the limits of the permissible in both democratic and non-democratic settings. I am interested in the subvarieties of contentious politics, and my publications are based on empirical field research in countries such as democratic Indonesia and autocratic China. In recent years I have applied this research agenda to such diverse topics as the visual arts, ethnic conflicts and vigilantism, land claims and political ecology, and blasphemy and the sacred sphere.


  • Director of Internationalisation

Research interests

My research is collaborative and interdisciplinary. Since 2004 I have studied processes of political transition in Indonesia, the third largest democracy (and fourth most populous country) in the world. My research focuses on the unintended consequences that have arisen in Indonesia since the transition to democracy in 1998. I am interested in the ways in which liberal reforms produced illiberal outcomes in newly decentralised Indonesia, based on comparative evidence of ethnic and religious revivalism. In addition, my research considers why democracy complicates efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and development pledges in Indonesia and Malaysia.

I find that international providers of development aid and assistance are often manipulated by local ‘clients’ who have their own political agendas, thus adding a level of complexity to the study of patron-client relations. I am currently leading a collaborative research project concerning the design, communication and impact of evidence-based forestry in Indonesia https://www.britac.ac.uk/international-partnership-and-mobility-2016-awards-list.


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Association of Southeast Asian Studies in the UK
  • International Indonesia Forum

Student education

My research on democracy and environmentalism in the Asia Pacific directly informs my teaching in Leeds. The research-led teaching on my modules evolves each year to keep pace with the rapid (and often unpredictable) changes in the region. I serve as the link tutor for partnerships with overseas institutions, offering support and guidance to international students in Leeds, as well as to current POLIS students who are considering further studies at one of the POLIS partners in countries such as China, Germany, Indonesia and Japan.

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>