Center For Southeast Asian Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Alfred W. McCoy

Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the past forty years, his writing about Southeast Asia has focused on two topics--the political history of the modern Philippines and the politics of opium in the Golden Triangle.
      The first edition of his book, published in 1972 as The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, sparked controversy, but is now regarded as the “classic work” about Asian drug trafficking. Now in its third revised edition, this book has been translated into nine languages, including, most recently, Thai and German. Three of his books on Philippine historiography have won the Philippine National Book Award--Philippine Cartoons (1985), Anarchy of Families (1994), and Lives at the Margin (2001). In 2001 as well, the Association for Asian Studies awarded him the Goodman Prize for a “deep and enduring impact on Philippine historical studies.”
      His recent book, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (2009), draws together these two strands in his research--covert operations and Philippine political history--to explore the role of police, information, and scandal in the shaping both the modern Philippine state and the U.S. internal security apparatus. In 2011, the Association for Asian Studies awarded Policing America’s Empire the George McT. Kahin Prize, describing the work as “a passionate, elegantly written book.”
     In 2012, the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association awarded him the Wilbur Cross Medal which is presented annually to “a small number of outstanding alumni” to recognize “distinguished achievements in scholarship, teaching, academic administration, and public service.” Simultaneously, the University of Wisconsin-Madison gave him the Hilldale Award for Arts & Humanities.
     For more information please visit Professor McCoy's History Department homepage.


History 319: The Vietnam Wars
History 458: Southeast Asia--1800 to the Present
History 755 (Seminar): Empire and Revolution in Southeast Asia
History 755 (Seminar): CIA Covert Warfare & the Conduct of U.S. Foreign Policy
History 755 (Seminar): Tropical Dictators--Authoritarianism in Indonesia & the Philippines
History 755 (Seminar): Islands of Southeast Asia--Comparative History of Indonesia & the Philippines



* "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation" (Madison, 2012.)
* (ed. Josep Fradera and Stephen Jacobson), "Endless Empire: Spain's Retreat, Europe's Eclipse, America's Decline" (Madison, 2012).
* "Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State" (Madison, 2009).
* (ed. with Francisco Scarano), "Colonial Crucible: Empire in the Making of the Modern American State" (Madison, 2009).
* ed., "An Anarchy of Families: Filipino Elites and the Philippine State" (Madison, 2009).
* "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror" (New York, 2006).
* "The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Traffic" (New York, revised, 2003).
* ed., "Lives at the Margin: Biographies of Filipinos Ordinary, Heroic, Obscure" (Quezon City, 2000).
* "Closer Than Brothers: Manhood at the Philippine Military Academy" (New Haven, 1999).
* "Philippine Cartoons: Political Caricature of the American Era, 1900-1941" (Quezon City, 1985).
* "Priests on Trial" (Melbourne,1984).
* ed.,"Philippine Social History: Global Trade and Local Transformations" (Quezon City, 1982).
* ed., "Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation" (New Haven, 1980).
* "Drug Traffic: Narcotics and Organized Crime in Australia" (Sydney, 1980).
* ed.,"Laos: War and Revolution" (New York, 1970).


“A Hundred Years of Drug Prohibition: A Study in the Failure of Global Governance,” in Michael Heazle, Martin Griffiths, and Tom Conley, eds.. Foreign Policy Challenges in the 21st Century (London: Edward Elgar, 2009), pp. 207-30.  
“Covert Netherworld: Clandestine Services & Criminal Syndicates in Shaping the Philippine State,” in, Eric Wilson, ed., Government of the Shadows (London: Pluto Press, 2009), pp. 226-55.  

“Legacy of a Dark Decade: CIA Mind Control, Classified Behavioral Research, and the Origins of Modern Medical Ethics,” in, Almerindo Ojeda, ed., Trauma of Psychological Torture (Westport: Praeger, 2008) pp. 40-69.

“Torture in the Crucible of Counterinsurgency,” in, Marilyn B. Young and Lloyd C. Gardner, eds., Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn From the Past (New York: New Press, 2007), pp. 230-62.

“The Stimulus of Prohibition: A Critical History of the Global Narcotics Trade,” in, Michael K. Steinberg, Joseph J. Hobbs, and Kent Mathewson., eds., Dangerous Harvest: Drug Plants and the Transformation of Indigenous Landscapes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 24-111.

“America’s Secret War in Laos, 1955-1975,” in, Marilyn B. Young and Robert Buzzanco, eds., A Companion to the Vietnam War (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), pp. 283-313.

“RAM and the Filipino Action Film,” in Rolando B. Tolentino, ed., Geopolitics of the Visible: Essays on Philippine Film Cultures (Quezon City: Ateneo University Press 2000), pp. 194-216.

“Mission Myopia: Narcotics as ‘Fall Out’ from the CIA’s Covert Wars,” in, Craig R. Eisendrath, ed., National Insecurity: U.S. Intelligence After the Cold War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000), pp. 118-48.

“Requiem for a Drug Lord: State and Commodity in the Career of Khun Sa,” in, Josiah McC. Heyman, States and Illegal Practices (Oxford: Berg, 1999), pp. 129-67.


* University of Wisconsin, Hilldale Award for Arts & Humanities, 2012.
* Yale Graduate School Alumni, Wilbur Cross Medal, 2012.
* Association for Asian Studies, George Kahin Prize, 2011.
* University of Wisconsin Graduate School, J.R.W. Smail Chair in History, 2004.
* Philippine National Book Award, 1985, 1995, 2001.
* Association for Asian Studies, Grant Goodman Prize, 2001.
* Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad, 1998-99.

How to contact Professor McCoy:
Email: awmccoy@wisc.edu
Phone: (608) 263-1855
5131 Humanities
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706



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Center for Southeast Asian Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
207 Ingraham Hall
1155 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1397
phone: (608) 263-1755
fax: (608) 263-3735
e-mail: seasia@intl-institute.wisc.edu