CSDS News: Center of Excellence in Resource Politics for Social Development: Student Research Grants 2018

Congratulations to 6 MAIDS and GRID students on being awarded research grants by the CSDS Center of Excellence on Resource Politics for Social Development.

We’ve created a new page for the recipients of these grants, which can be viewed here.



The Center of Excellence in Resource Politics for Social Development in the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) offers research grants and mentoring to MA and PhD students studying on the MAIDS and GRID programs of the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. The goal of the research grant program is to support young researchers to undertake studies on resource politics for social development and to publish their work in academic journals. Funding is kindly provided by Chulalongkorn University’s financial support for the Center of Excellence.

IN THE NEWS: 'Why the Mekong matters'



By Sam Geall [The Third Pole, 1 November 2018]

The countries of the Mekong should build a “community of shared future”, said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in December last year. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperative Framework (LMC) is “practical and highly effective”, he said. “We do not go after a high-profile ‘talk shop’, but a down-to-earth ‘bulldozer’”.

China has managed to cement its influence over the transboundary river in recent years, in a move that has important implications for the riverine environment and the people that rely on its resources. Its primary vehicle, or “bulldozer”, the LMC, will drive dam and development projects, special economic zones and trade.

It also illustrates China’s changing approaches to Southeast Asia – the central topic addressed recently in a policy forum The Third Pole and chinadialogue co-organised with the Centre for Social Development Studies (CSDS) and the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok.

Read more at this link here

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Sustainable Transboundary Governance of the Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia" [Singapore, 1-2 November 2018]

Sustainable Transboundary Governance of the Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia is a workshop organised by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. This multi-disciplinary workshop will explore key issues in sustainable development with particular reference to the ecological commons in Southeast Asia from a transboundary governance perspective.

For more details about the workshop, please visit this link.

Panel 7 - Transborder Governance Frameworks

15:30 - 16.30, November 2, AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04, National University of Singapore, Singapore

How East Asian Regional Economic Integration Teleconnects and Transforms Wetland Commons and Community Vulnerability in Japan and Thailand

  • Carl Middleton, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

  • Takeshi Ito, Sophia University, Japan

Global and regional economic integration teleconnect distant places not only economically but also ecologically. Japan is a key exporter of capital and aid provider to Southeast Asia, catalyzing industrialization and new flows of trade and investment. Whilst much emphasis has been placed by governments and transnational corporations on the economic benefits of regionalization, research has also revealed impacts to local environments including enclosure of commons and differentiated changes for communities’ vulnerabilities

For more details on this session, please take a look at the abstract here.

SSRCProgramAbstracts_as of Oct 17-01.jpg

UPCOMING FORUM SESSION: "YouthQuake - Bangkok Forum 2018" [Bangkok 24-25 October 2018]

The Bangkok Forum “Future Sustainable Asia” is an integrative knowledge platform, a new initiative launched in 2018 by Chulalongkorn University with the support from Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies (KFAS). CSDS has been involved in the Bangkok Forum 2018 to help organize the “YouthQuake” event

For more information about this initiative, please visit this link.


16:30 - 17:30, October 24, Music Hall, Art & Culture Building, Chulalongkorn University

It is a certainty that the youth are the future of society. The experience of the youth in contemporary society is a very different experience to that of older generations. New challenges and opportunities exist for today’s youth, who experience perhaps most directly the rapid changes that society is undergoing. In a world where new perspectives are urgently needed, the youth have an important contribution to make. Furthermore, for a sustainable future, intergenerational dialogue and knowledge sharing is also increasingly an apparent necessity. In the “Youthquake” session, we will stimulate debate and share perspectives of the youth on their priorities for a sustainable future. Overall, the session will explore the key role of both youth and education institutions in building a sustainable society, share innovative approaches, and propose key priorities.

Moderator: Dr. Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

16:30 – 16:35 Introduction to the panel and the panelists (Dr. Carl Middleton)

16:35 – 16:45 Introduce and show “Chula Youthquake” film (synopsis) (Dr. Pasicha Chaikaew, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University; and Dr. Supawan Visetnoi, Chulalongkorn University School of Agricultural Resources)

16:45 – 17:15 Panel discussion

  • Paulista Surjadi, Communication Director, Kota Kita, Indonesia

  • Sawang Srisom, Secretary for Transportation for All (T4A)

  • Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh, Founder and Executive Director, Rural Development Agency, Laos

17:15 – 17:25 Q&A

17:25 – 17:30 Wrap-up (Dr. Carl Middleton)

For more details about the YouthQuake, please visit this link.


IN THE NEWS: "Review of “Dead in the water: global lessons from the World Bank's model hydropower project in Laos”"

By Rajesh Daniel [Water Alternatives, 2018]


In July 2018, the massive dam break of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam in Laos killed more than 30 people in Laos and left thousands of people homeless in both Laos and Cambodia. The US$1 billion Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam was a "build-operate-transfer" project much like the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) dam.

. . .

This book provides a fascinating account of how, with the NT2, the World Bank and the GoL took the first steps on the dam-building program that has brought us to where we are now: more than 72 new large dams, 12 of which are under construction and 25 in advanced planning stages in Laos, many involving private-public partnerships.


Carl Middleton of CSDS contributed the chapter “Branding Dams: Nam Theun 2 and its Role in Producing the Discourse of “Sustainable Hydropower”” to the book (see here)

Buy the Book: Dead in the water: global lessons from the World Bank's model hydropower project in Laos (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018)

Read full article here.

UPCOMING EVENT: Book Launch 'Dead in the Water: Global Lessons from the World Bank's Model Hydropower Project in Laos' [Bangkok, 19 October 2018]

Friday 19 October 2018, 10.00 - 12.00 at Alumni Meeting Room, 12th floor, Building 3, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Moderated by Kasira Cheeppensook (Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University)


This event will be broadcasted on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/CSDSChula/

To register for this event, please e-mail us your name, organisation, and position to  Anisa Widyasari (CSDS) at communications.csds@gmail.com. The seat is limited and registration will be accepted on first come first served basis.

181019 Book Launch.png

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Enclosing the Urban Commons: “Eco-Connected” Processes of Wetland Transformation in Tokyo and Bangkok" [Washington, 5 October 2018]

Session organized for the Celebrating Commons Scholarship Conference

15:15-16:45, 5 October 2018, Breakout Room #3 (Hotung 6006), Georgetown Law Center Washington DC

Paper presented:

Enclosing the Urban Commons: “Eco-Connected” Processes of Wetland Transformation in Tokyo and Bangkok

Takeshi Ito, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Graduate School of Global Studies, Sophia University (takeshi.ito@sophia.ac.jp)

Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University (Carl.Chulalongkorn@gmail.com)


Global and regional economic integration “eco-connect” distant places not only economically but also ecologically. In East Asia, regional economic integration accelerated since the 1980s. Japan became a key exporter of capital to Southeast Asia, catalyzing a rapid industrialization and new flows of trade and investment. Whilst much emphasis has been placed by governments and transnational corporations on the economic benefits of regionalization, many researchers and civil society groups have also revealed significant impacts to local environments including enclosure of commons, and differentiated changes for communities’ economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities in both positive and negative ways.

In this paper, we detail how economic and environmental processes “eco-connect” together and have transformed the social-ecological functions, spaces and commons of two urban wetlands near Tokyo and Bangkok. By taking a longue duree approach to environmental change, we show that the two wetlands are distant yet connected, mediated by economic and virtual resource flows. In Japan, the area today called Watarase wetland was home to a rural village. Located on the floodplain of the Watarase river, rice farming provided an important livelihood for some 2,500 villagers. In the late nineteenth century, however, the village was heavily affected by pollution through the river from copper mining near Ashio. Faced with fierce protests in the village as well as Tokyo, in 1902 the Japanese government decided to transform the entire village into a reservoir to dilute mineral poison. Within a time span of a century, Japan’s economy underwent a cycle of industrialization and deindustrialization while the reservoir was constructed as a lush wetland protected under the Ramsar convention. In Thailand, Bang Kasii in Samut Prakarn Province that thirty years ago was a fishing and farming community has since transformed into a peri-urban area of Bangkok containing a mixture of residential areas, industrial zones and fishing/farming activity. The factories, many of which are investments from Japan since the 1980s, have provided employment for some, including many migrants into the community, and supported secondary industries; at the same time, transforming land use has enclosed wetlands, and previous fishing livelihoods lost due to water quality degradation due to industrial pollution.

We build upon literature on teleconnected processes (Adger et al. 2008; Robbins, 2014) to analyze how economic trade and virtual resource flows connect together these two distant locations in Thailand and Japan, including in terms of industrial development, environmental change, resource availability, access and use, and water (in)security. We find that in Japan, deindustrialization has been an opportunity for furthering environmental protection as well as water security, but has also increased economic vulnerability for industrial workers as jobs moved overseas. In Thailand, whilst economic growth has reduced vulnerability for some, environmental degradation and pollution, and loss of access to resources such as water, fisheries, forests and land has also increased vulnerability for many others. Overall, we argue that it is necessary to render visible how distant places are eco-connected in order to build social momentum towards challenging and transforming existing regional economic integration models towards one that is more just and sustainable.

Conference details are available here.


UPCOMING EVENT: "FUTURE LITERACY in a Disruptive and Unequal World: Implications for ASEAN" [Bangkok, 30 August 2018]"

Public Lecture by Prof. Riel Miller

Thursday 30 August 2018, 14.30 - 16.00 at Malai Meeting Room, 12th floor, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

For thirty years Prof. Miller has been co-creating innovation, leadership and transformation in both the public and private sectors around the world. He is one of the worldʼs leading strategic foresight designers and practitioners. Currently Prof. Miller holds the position of Head of Futures Literacy at UNESCO in Paris. Previously he has worked as Head of Foresight at UNESCO, a senior manager in the Ontario public services, and for some thirteen years in total at the OECD in Paris.


Prof. Surichai Wun’gaeo, Chair, Global and Regional Studies Program, Chulalongkorn University


  • Dr. Victor Karunan, MAIDS-GRID program, Chulalongkorn University
  • Dr. Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Chulalongkorn University
20180830 Public Lecture-FINAL.jpg

UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Understanding the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework and China’s role in the Mekong Region" [Bangkok, 3 September 2018]

09.00 - 17.00, Monday, 3rd September at Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor, Kasem Utthayanin Building (อาคารเกษม อุทยานิน), Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Co-organized by chinadialogue, The Third Pole, Earth Journalism Network, and the Centre for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

The Mekong region is facing a period of rapid change shaped by a significant shift over the past decade in its relationship with China. New pathways of regional integration and intergovernmental cooperation have emerged, including through the Belt and Road Initiative and the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework. Associated with these shifts have been deepening trade between China and the Mekong Region, and growing flows of investment from China into a range of projects including large dams, railways, and industrial projects. Whilst these trends reflect a geo-economic shift, longstanding challenges on environmental sustainability, social equity, government-investor accountability to the public and public participation remain. Inevitably it seems, China, as a powerful country, will play a key role in shaping the future path of the Mekong Region.

This public forum will bring together experts and journalists from China and lower Mekong countries to discuss the geopolitical implications of Chinese investment and regional initiatives in the Mekong Region. It will address the Belt and Road Initiative; the challenges and opportunities in transboundary water governance under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework, together with other emerging cooperation issues; and debate by regional journalists about the trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media on reporting on China’s role in the Mekong Region.


Program and List of Panelists:

08.15 - 09.00  Registration

09.00 - 09.15  Welcome remarks by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

09.15 - 10.45  Session 1: The Belt and Road Initiative:  Geopolitical implications for Asia

Moderator: Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

  • 'Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of the Belt and Road Initiative' by Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Chulalongkorn University

  • 'The Belt and Road Initiative: A Perspective from China' by Mr. Li Hong,Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP)

  • 'What does the Belt and Road Initiative mean for US-Thailand relations?' by Benjamin Zawacki, Independent Analyst

  • 'Debt Diplomacy?: The experience of Sri Lanka' by Amantha Perera, Journalist

10.45 - 11.15  Coffee break

11.15 - 12.45  Session 2: Transboundary Water Cooperation – Progress and Challenges

Moderator: Dr. Ukrist Pathmanand, Mekong Research Center, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University  

12.45 - 13.30  Lunch

13.30 - 14.45  Session 3: Rise of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework: Emerging cooperation issues

Moderator: Kamol Sukin, China Dialogue

14.45 - 15.15  Coffee Break

15.15 - 16.45  Session 4: Reporting on the Mekong and China’s role: Trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media

Moderator: Sim Kok Eng Amy, Earth Journalism Network

16.45 - 17.00  Closing Reflections

  • Dr. Sam Geall, China Dialogue

  • Professor Surichai Wun’gaeo, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University


*This event will be broadcasted on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/CSDSChula/


To register for this forum, please e-mail us your name, organisation, and position to  Anisa Widyasari (CSDS) at communications.csds@gmail.com. The seat is limited and registration will be accepted on first come first served basis.

CDposter1-FINAL0827 (1).jpg

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "ASEAS Conference: Southeast Asia Meets Global Challenges" [Leeds, 5-7 September 2018]


ASEAS (Association of Southeast Asian Studies) facilitates cooperation between scholars, institutions and research programmes in Southeast Asian studies both within the UK and with other countries.

The Association was established in 1969 and has members from dozens of different universities and over 15 countries, including academics, postgraduate researchers and others who are just interested in Southeast Asia.


15:30-17:30, 5 September 2018, PGG 4, University of Leeds

How to Rule with an Iron Fist: Legitimating Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia
Convenor: Erwin S. Fernandez, House of Pangasinan Studies

Authoritarianism has been a political feature of many governments in Southeast Asia. After World War II the region undertook decolonization and these countries, one after the other, gained independence. ’Strongman rule’ reigned in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore while brutal military dictatorships ruled in Burma and Thailand. In former Indochina, communist regimes swayed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In recent years, authoritarian longing and lure have pervaded the atmosphere in some Southeast Asian countries even in countries that transitioned to democracy. In order to legitimate their authoritarian rule, state elites have used a variety of ways to justify their regimes.

This panel seeks to understand and examine the ideologies, mechanisms, means and processes – or the Althusserian ideological state apparatuses – that state actors in Southeast Asia deploy to rationalize and perpetuate their either one-man or one-party rule.


  • 'Martial Law and the Filipino Intellectuals: Defending and Justifying the New Order' by Erwin S Fernandez
  • 'Recalling hydraulic despotism: Hun Sen’s Cambodia and the re-emergence of staunch authoritarianism' by David J.H. Blake
  • 'Political trust in authoritarian settings: Forms, functions, and roles in governance' by Kasira Cheeppensook (CSDS)
  • 'How an authoritarian regime crafted good women: the case of women volunteers in Indonesia' by Vita Febriany
  • 'Political Learning and Military Rule in Thailand: From the 'Wasted' 2006 Coup to the NCPO Regime' by Panuwat Panduprasert

15:30-17:30, 5 September 2018, SED 5, University of Leeds

Beyond Water Terror: Everyday Life, Labour and Mobility amidst Southeast Asia’s Changing Hydrology
Convenor: Dr Laurie Parsons, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London

As the likelihood of conflicts over water increases, global scholarship is increasingly attentive to the politics of this vital resource. Parts of the world are growing drier in the face of climate change and population growth, leading the threat of terror and war to become heightened in those areas where states compete most strongly for scarce resources. Elsewhere, more than three billion people are threatened by catastrophic flooding with the potential to fuel existing armed conflicts. Indeed, so seriously are world leaders taking the issue, that water crises were ranked as one of the five greatest threats facing the world at the 2018 World Economic Forum.

Yet this narrative of international conflict masks a more pernicious reality. Currently, two thirds of the global population lack adequate water supplies at least one month per year and half a billion face severe water scarcity all year round. At the same time, others face an opposite threat, as changing rainfall patterns lead inland flooding to become more intense and less predictable, leading to shifting livelihoods, migration and poverty.

The struggles that arise show that water conflict is not confined to the scale of nations, but acts also as an everyday axis of inequality, intertwined in social and economic systems. As Southeast Asian nations face water growing water shortages, this ticking time bomb is driving ever more people into precarious labour, bondage, and modern slavery across the region. This panel seeks to explore this nexus, exploring how the everyday politics of water are becoming embedded in the life and labour of the region.


  • 'The Spatial Politics of Water in Cambodia: Marginality, Precarity, Power' by Laurie Parsons
  • 'Developing mobile political ecology in Southeast Asia: insights from flood contexts' by Carl Middleton (CSDS) & Rebecca Elmhirst
  • 'The Everyday Politics of Hydrological Engineering and the Geography of Death Under the Khmer Rouge' by James A. Tyner
  • 'Shaping the Water and Grabbing the Land: The Elite Land Grabbing in Cambodian Urban Poor Communities' by Sopheak Chann
  • 'Livelihood as a Measure of Vulnerability in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda' by Pauline Eadie

11:00-12:30, 6 September 2018, PGG 1, University of Leeds

Is There a ‘Leeds School’ of Southeast Asian Political Studies? - Thailand: Politics And Public Policy
Convenor: Professor Duncan McCargo, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

Over the past quarter century, more than 25 students have successfully completed Leeds PhDs  on  different  aspects  over  Southeast  Asia’s  politics,  international  relations  and development. Many of these theses were co-supervised or internally examined by Duncan McCargo, David Beetham, Ricardo Blaug, Gordon Crawford, Joern Dosch, Caroline Dyer, Hugh Dyer, Christine Harlen, Mike Parnwell, Ruth Pearson, Adam Tyson and Polly Wilding. This panel asks whether these doctoral theses, along with subsequent publications by their authors, work done by Leeds academics, and work published by students who studied for MAs at Leeds before pursuing doctorates elsewhere, amount to a ‘Leeds School’ of Southeast Asian political studies? Arguably, the Leeds School is characterised by an emphasis on empirical fieldwork, the use of qualitative methods including ethnographic approaches, and an emphasis on developing clear, comparative concepts rather than theorising for its own sake.


  • 'Thailand’s Authoritarianism' by Naruemon Thabchumpon (CSDS)
  • 'Urban Development and Autocracy in Thailand' by Pechladda Pechpakdee
  • 'Cultural Limitations on Talented Millennials in the Thai Bureaucratic Arena' by Krittinan Anantakoon & Pad Lavankura
  • 'The Evolution of Vote-Canvasser Networks in Thailand' by Anyarat Chattharakul

14:00-16:00, 7 September 2018, School of Politics & International Studies, University of Leeds

Roundtable on Cambodia’s Elections
Convenor: Professor Duncan McCargo, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds

Discussants: Naruemon Thabchumpon (CSDS), Sophal Ear, and Vathana Seourn

Cambodia’s scheduled July 2018 elections were widely expected to bring about a significant realignment in the country’s politics, given the strong performance of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in both the 2013 general election and the June 2017 commune council elections. However, the recent court-imposed closure of the CNRP leaves the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) with no significant challenger in the 2018 elections; meanwhile a recent crackdown on civil society and media organisations which has included the shutdown of the English-language Cambodia Daily has had a chilling effect on political life in the country. This roundtable will discuss the latest political situation in Cambodia, with respect to electoral politics, the growing role of the courts, the sphere of civil society and the salience of both mainstream and social media.


Conference details are available here.



PH.D. SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY: How East Asian regional economic integration connect and transform wetlands in Thailand and Japan

rgjphd_logo (1).png

The Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) is happy to announce a partial-scholarship for a Thai Ph.D. candidate commencing in 2019. The research topic is “Tele-connected places, virtual water flows and vulnerability: How East Asian regional economic integration connect and transform wetlands in Thailand and Japan.”

The successful candidate will be enrolled in Chulalongkorn University's Graduate Research in International Development Studies (GRIDS) program of the Faculty of Political Science and will be connected with the CSDS on our thematic work. The Ph.D. will be supervised by Dr. Carl Middleton (GRID/ CSDS) and in collaboration with Dr. Takeshi Ito of the Global Studies Program of the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sophia University, Japan.

The partial-scholarship is kindly provided by from the  Royal Golden Jubilee Scholarship (Kanchanabhisek Fund). The scholarship is open to a Thai candidates with a minimum of GPA 3.0 for your Bachelor-level degree and a minimum of GPA 3.5 for your Master-level degree. The deadline for applicants is 30 October 2018.

The scholarship covers the following costs:

  • Allowance of THB 12,000 / month for 3 years
  • Tuition fee of THB 60,000 / year for 3 years
  • Research funding of THB 50,000 / year for three years
  • Field research grant of up to THB 500,000 to conduct overseas research [in Japan]

The scholarship does not cover the cost of registration fee (195,000 THB per year).

Interest applicants can contact Dr. Carl Middleton for further details.

UPCOMING EVENT: "In Restropect & reflection: The People Uprising in Myanmar" [Bangkok, 11 August 2018]

In Restropect & reflection: The People Uprising in Myanmar

Talk on 30th Anniversary of the 8888 Uprising: Spirit and Dynamic of Changes in Myanmar

Saturday 11th August, 12.30 - 16.30 at Student Christian Center, Bangkok, Thailand



13.00 Conversation with Sawangwongse Yawnghwe (Artist - Grandson  of the 1st President of Myanmar)

13.30 Opening Remarks and Commemorative Video

13.40 Talk with the Panelists:

  • Kyaw Zwa Moe (Irrawaddy News)
  • Salai Ceu Bik Thawng (22 Ethnic Political Parties Coalition)
  • Dulyapak Preecharush (Southeast Asian Studies, Thammasat University)

The event will be moderated by Naruemon Thabchumpon (CSDS and MAIDS-GRID, Chulalongkorn University)

Thai and Burmese translation will be provided.

For more information, please contact Myint Wai (0813577634)



UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "New Regimes of Commodification and State Formation on the Resource Frontier of Southeast Asia" [Helsinki, 17 August 2018]

Session organized for the 4th Annual Conference of the World-Eco­logy Research Net­work in Helsinki, Fin­land

13:00-14:30, 17 August 2018, Fabianinkatu 33, Room 3008, University of Helsinki


Conveners: Anu Lounela, Tuomas Tammisto and Mira Kakonen

Discussant: Carl Middleton

This thematic panel is to examine the interplay between the commodification of nature, value production, and state formation especially in Southeast Asia but possibly also in other regions. Southeast Asian countries are experiencing rapid transformations shaped by new dynamics involving investors from China and from the wealthiest ASEAN countries. The pace of change is fast, with high-tech special economic zones, extractive mining and hydropower enclaves, and large-scale agro-industrial land concessions emerging alongside smallholders or forest-dependent communities whose populations in Southeast Asia still number in tens of millions. New boom and bust cycles of industrial crops like rubber and oil palm are constantly re-shaping the rural landscapes. In the Southeast Asian resource frontiers competition over resources and land is high, the presence of the state is fragmented and uneven, and new property systems and legal arrangements are in the making. This panel aims to explore: How does rapid commodification of natural elements constitute or entangle with various processes of state formation in the frontiers of Southeast Asia? How do different actors and groups compete over different values and meanings of resources and with what effects?


  • "New Commodity Regimes in the Making of Frontiers in Indonesia" by Anu Lounela (University of Helsinki)
  • "State Formation on the Oil Palm Frontier of Papua New Guinea" by Tuomas Tammisto (University of Helsinki)
  • "Interplay of Resoruce-Making and State-Making in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia" by Mira Kakonen (University of Helsinki)
  • “Resource Politics in Myanmar/Burma through the Lens of Hydrosocial Territories: Implications for the Peace Negotiation Process" by Johanna Gotz and Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University)

Conference details are available here.


UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Conflicts and Resource Politics in Myanmar" [Helsinki, 15 August 2018]

Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar

Discussion on the complex resource politics and its implications for the peace process in Myanmar


Wednesday 15th August, 10:00-13:30 at Think Corner (Tiedekulma), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4, Helsinki, Finland

Organized by: Development Studies, University of Helsinki in collaboration with Felm and Siemenpuu Foundation

Myanmar is experiencing a complicated process of transition towards a civilian government, multi-party democratic elections, and peace negotiations. At the same time, the recent opening of the country has resulted in an accelerating rush for the rich natural resources, including a boom in extractive industrial and agribusiness projects. Most of these resources are located in the ethnic states and many of the grievances of the various ethnic communities are entangled with the questions of access to and control over resources. In this event researchers, NGO representatives and social movement activists discuss the ways that land and other resource rights should be addressed as a part of conflict resolution towards sustainable peace in Myanmar.

The recent political changes in Myanmar has also meant a rush of different international development organisations to the country. Recently Finland too has decided to focus its support in Southeast Asia to Myanmar. The event includes a panel discussion on the Finland’s future role in Myanmar with perspectives from civil society, ministry officials and private sector.


  • Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University
  • Khu Khu Ju, Land in Our Hands, Transnational Institute
  • Kyi Phyo, Mekong Energy and Ecology Network

*This event is a side event of the 4th Annual World-Ecology Research Network Conference that takes place this year in Helsinki (15-18 August).

Event details are available here.


UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: Human of Seafood [26 June 2018]

Human of Seafood

Tuesday 26 June 2018, 13.00 - 16.00 at Ruan Chula Narumit, Chulalongkorn University

Co-organized by MA in International Development Studies program, Asian Research Center for Migration, Center for Social Development Studies, and Oxfam UK  

[This event is in Thai language with an English summary]

Where does your favorite seafood come from? Who are behind the processes? This event aims to be a platform for constructive dialogue among stakeholders in Thailand’s seafood sector including the government, private sector, civil society as well as academics.

Please register here: http://bit.ly/2I10Syv, sustainable seafood cocktails are served after the event.

For more information, please contact Ms. Piyarat, tel 0886804498 or pketkrai@oxfam.org.uk

Human of Seafood.jpg

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: Political ecology, water, and the hydrosocial cycle [22 June 2018]

Session organized for the “POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities” conference

8:30-10:00, 22 June 2018, Pilestredet 35, Room 35-PI 556, Oslo Metropolitan University


  • “Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t? Mixed methods approaches in understanding the links between poverty and inequality and dam construction” by Lucy Goodman (Cambridge University)
  • “How river basins in Thailand and Japan relate: Politicizing virtual water through a hydrosocial lens” by Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn University) and Takeshi Ito (Sophia University)
  • “Living with floods in a mobile Southeast Asia: A political ecology of vulnerability, migration and environmental change” by Becky Elmhirst (University of Brighton)

Conference details are available here.

POLLEN logo.png

IN THE NEWS: 'Forgotten war' strips Kachin of hope

By Paritta Wangkiat [Bangkok Post, 14 June 2018]

Myanmar's "forgotten war" in Kachin state has received little public attention despite the scale of the impact it has had on people who have become internally displaced and the casualties caused by the fighting between ethnic rebels and the army.

Worse still, the war has caused long-lasting socio-economic effects for the Kachin people, depriving them of hope. To remind the world about the war, civil society groups from Kachin last Friday held a forum at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to mark the seventh anniversary of the ongoing conflict which reignited on June 9, 2011 after the collapse of a 17-year ceasefire.

Read the full article here. See the event announcement here.

IN THE NEWS: 'Climate disaster looms for SE Asia'

Climate disaster looms for SE Asia-1.jpg

International and regional researchers at a Panel Discussion organized by SEA Junction in Bangkok have urged governments in Southeast Asia to prioritise creating climate change resilience for their citizens, as the region faces risks of more greater and more intense natural disasters….

Referring to “Living With Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia”, a recent publication to which researchers from SEI-Asia and Chulalongkorn University contributed, Torre stressed how policy and disaster responses centering mainly, if not only, on relocation or disaster risk mitigation are likely to fail in the long term.  To be successful in reducing vulnerabilities, these actions must consider, among others, mobility patterns and causes, livelihood strategies as well as historical sources of poverty and inequality.

Read more here

Visit our project webpage on Living with Floods in Southeast Asia here.