UPCOMING CONFERENCE: Graduate Studies in the Disruptive Society: Innovation in Human Rights, Development Studies and Resource Politics [12-13 July 2018]

UPCOMING CONFERENCE:  Graduate Studies in the Disruptive Society: Innovation in Human Rights, Development Studies and Resource Politics [12-13 July 2018]

In commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, a special conference centered on the idea of academia in activism will be held at Chulalongkorn University from 12-13 July 2018 at the Faculty of Political Science Main Building. 

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NETWORK: CSDS joins POLLEN political ecology network

NETWORK: CSDS joins POLLEN political ecology network

The Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) is an umbrella organization of political ecology researchers, groups, projects, networks and ‘nodes’ across the globe. It aims to provide a platform for the ‘cross fertilization’ of ideas and where the world’s many rich, diverse traditions can come together, discuss, and debate the latest developments in the field of political ecology. It also aims to function as a vehicle to promote, encourage and facilitate political ecological research with other academic fields and disciplines, as well as civil society.

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NETWORK: Advisory Committee member to Platform on Disaster Displacement

NETWORK: Advisory Committee member to Platform on Disaster Displacement

The Center for Social Development Studies is honored to be invited to the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement. We aim to contribute our research and recommendations on disaster displacement, human rights and development in Southeast Asia, building on our recent studies on political ecologies of mobility.

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COLLABORATION: Disaster and Displacement through a Human Rights Lens in Asia-Pacific

COLLABORATION: Disaster and Displacement through a Human Rights Lens in Asia-Pacific

When a disaster strikes leading to people’s displacement not all are impacted in the same way, and often it is marginalized groups who are affected the hardest. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) has initiated a regional study on the relationship between disaster and people displacement through a human rights lens in the Asia Pacific. The research is underpinned by the recognition that pre-existing patterns of discrimination can exacerbate vulnerability to disaster-related harm. The research is informed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights' Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and will examine how state actors fulfill their obligations to prevent displacement, protect people during displacement, and facilitate durable solutions in the aftermath. It is intended to offer recommendations on future policy and implementation across the region.

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VACANCY: Communications Coordinator

VACANCY: Communications Coordinator

Currently seeking a Communications Coordinator. This is a full-time position, to be based in our office within the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. The position is open to all nationalities. For the selected candidate, if non-Thai, we are able to offer a Thai visa and work permit. Appropriate training will be provided as needed.

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COLLABORATION: Sustainable Governance of the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia

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The Sustainable Governance of the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia (TECSEA) project is a new multi-disciplinary five year project based at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS). Led by Professor David Taylor and Professor Jonathan Rigg, it’s goal is to further understanding of key issues in the sustainable development of the ecological commons in Southeast Asia from a transboundary governance perspective, with a focus on air and fresh water.

The research project involves a team spanning the region, including the Center for Social Development Studies as a collaborator in Thailand. We are very excited to contribute to this project, in particular on its fresh water component. With growing pressures on commons ranging from the local to the national and transnational scale, this project will contribute new insights and policy guidance at a critical decision-making juncture.

For further details on the project, visit the project’s website. An introductory article on the project is published in ARI’s March 2018 newsletter (#41) which can be downloaded here.

Contact at CSDS: Dr. Carl Middleton (Carl.Chulalongkorn@gmail.com).

 Peatland in Jambi, Indonesia | Photo credit: David Taylor

Peatland in Jambi, Indonesia | Photo credit: David Taylor

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Nujiang, China

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Nujiang, China

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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AWARENESS: International Day of Action for Rivers [14 March]

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Adopted by participants of the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams, March 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil, the International Day of Action for Rivers is a time for community members, civil society and organizations like us to celebrate the value of healthy rivers, and educate and spread awareness about the conservation of our watersheds and the importance of equitable and sustainable management of rivers and waterways. Today we recognize the 21st annual Day of Action, an event that directly connects with much of work we do here at the Center for Social Development Studies. 

As one can probably tell from following our work and posts, we are quite passionate about the work and research we do on the region's rivers, particularly the Salween and Mekong Rivers, as well as the communities that depend on them for life and livelihoods and the unique but heavily threatened ecosystems that are located along these basins. Most recently the Center and its partners held a special workshop in Yangon, Myanmar on the present state and future of the Salween (Thanlwin) River, bringing together over 60 participants to debate and present research and findings about a great diversity of topics related to this important waterway, with the hope that policy and actions would eventually make their way up to official decision-makers with the goal of creating greater ownership for the river, leading to better planning and conservation of both the natural ecologies and human settlements.

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In 2017 CSDS helped support a special project called "Salween Stories," with the aim to use locally produced multimedia to tell the stories of the unique individuals and communities that live along the river. From Yunnan, China to the border regions of Thailand/Myanmar, this unique method of storytelling takes visitors to remote and often mystical locations around Southeast Asia to explore the lifestyles, myths and issues all stemming from one of the world's most important and threatened rivers. Visit their website to be transported to Hpa-an, Mae Sam Laep, Mong Pan and Nujiang

Spring 2018 marks the end of one of CSDS's most prominent, practical and most riparian-focused programs, the Salween Water Governance Fellowship, which brought together dozens of researchers based in Thailand and Myanmar, focused on strengthening networks between university researchers and civil society groups, and contributing to the empowerment of local communities. Last year's Greater Mekong WLE Forum saw the culmination of these projects with presentation from all research fellows which marks a major milestone in both the Center's vision and the achievements of the individuals and the work they represent. The policy briefs based on the research undertaken for this project can be found and downloaded here

The Center for Social Development Studies also welcomes you to visit our Publications sector to explore a great deal more research and information centered around rivers and the people who live on or around them.

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AWARENESS: International Women's Day [8 March]

By Robert Irven

"This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change." -United Nations

Today marks the celebration of International Women's Day, a day in which we should reflect on the progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage, resilience and determination by both ordinary and extraordinary women who have played an important role in the history of their countries, society and local communities. This year, the theme of today's celebrations and events is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” which puts an emphasis on the importance women play in the development of both parts of society. "Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population, and are being left behind in every measure of development." (United Nations, 2018)

As our Center is a strong believer and advocate for human rights, women's rights, and the ongoing struggle to achieve them in full, certainly falls under this overarching theme, and much of our past and current work focuses on gender and its connection to development in the region. The subject of gender, often combined to create a nexus of justice, development or equality, were touched upon in a variety of our publications, most notably from our Salween Fellowship researchers. From various blogs, to policy briefs on the topics of  "Gender and Hydropower: Women’s Rights in the Development Discourse" or "Large Hydropower Projects in Ethnic Areas in Myanmar: Placing Community Participation and Gender Central to Decision-Making," the Center for Social Development Studies continues to put gender and the importance of having women at the forefront of development and decision-making processes as a main priority of our research and projects.

For more information about International Women's Day 2018 and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

Video message by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on the occasion of International Women's day 2018.

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mong Pan, Myanmar

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mong Pan, Myanmar

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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AWARENESS: World Day of Social Justice [20 February]

By Robert Irven

"Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability." -United Nations

These words help us set the context to mark the World Day of Social Justice 2018, a day to bring awareness to the fight for seeking social justice for the development and human dignity of all those around the world. This year, a special theme has been set: Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice. Considering the increasing numbers of those on the move, whether they be migrants, refugees or the many who sit in the grey area in between, one cannot deny that this issue is one that has much importance, both currently and for the foreseeable future. In 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty‐fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well‐being and justice for all.

Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia' book

Here at the CSDS, one of our main themes of work centers around "Human Rights, Human Security & Justice," an area which we believe is relevant in every part of daily life, and a subject that must be kept in the foreground of any development discussion or project. A major project that was recently completed titled "Transboundary Rivers: Arenas of Justice" focused on using a specific rights-based approach to the food-water-energy nexus that exists within and around the region's major waterways, allowing for difficult yet important discussions around these topics to be had. 

Research out of our Salween Fellowship program has also produced a variety of publications focused on the topic of justice, which can be found for viewing and download here. As this years' events also center around the topic of movement, the newly launched booked "Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change” also provides an in-depth look at how national and regional policy-agendas and responses to environmental disaster and climate change-related hazards are adding to the complexities of human mobility in Southeast Asia. Dive deeper into a conversation about water justice in Laos with the book chapter Arenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: A Case Study of the Xayaburi Dam, Laos

For more information about the World Day of Social Justice and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

 Thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Egypt and Tunisia, wait to cross into Tunisia from Libya. UNHCR/A Duclos

Thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Egypt and Tunisia, wait to cross into Tunisia from Libya. UNHCR/A Duclos

ANNOUNCEMENT: Best of 2017

2017 was a very busy year for the Center of Social Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University, so we've compiled an easy-to-read and compact list of all our top content, projects and events to give you a full year in review!

Download the document here to see all the great things we worked on and learn about what are planning on for an even busier and exciting 2018!

UPCOMING CONFERENCE: International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies [16-18 February]

CSDS Researchers head to the 2nd International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies

16-18 February 2018, University of Mandalay, Myanmar

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On 16 February, Mandalay University in collaboration with Chiang Mai University will host the International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies. The three day conference will welcome scholars, researchers, journalists, NGO workers and observers from all over the world to present and debate on all topics surrounding the country of Myanmar/Burma. CSDS researchers will organize a series of panels and paper presentations for the conference, focusing on a variety of topics ranging from the new political and economic landscape of Myanmar, to local livelihoods along the Salween River. Below are the details (and links for individual abstracts) of the three panels being co-organized and led by CSDS, as well as an individual paper that is part of a series of presentations on Chin State.

Local Livelihoods and Change in the Salween Basin (Convener: Carl Middleton)

 

Thanlwin-Khong-Nu-Salween River in a Cultural and Political Perspective (Convener: Vanessa Lamb)


Development and Transition in Myanmar: Exploring a New Political and Economic Landscape Since 2010 (Convener: Nauremon Thabchumpon)

 

Water Insecurity in Hakha Town, Chin State, Myanmar: Structural Violence and the Production of Water Scarcity (Paper presentation) (Carl Middleton)

For more information about the conference and full schedule, please visit http://burmaconference.com/.

 
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AWARENESS: World Wetlands Day 2018 [2 February]

By Robert Irven

Today we mark the celebration and awareness of World Wetlands Day, established by the 1971 signing of the Convention of Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention). This day not only marks the signing of the convention 46 years ago in Iran, but also serves to bring a spotlight to the importance of not only wetlands themselves, but the conservation efforts that must be continued in order to maintain these special ecosystems which often protect our cities and the millions of people and wildlife that depend on them.

Here at the Center for Social Development Studies, we have invested considerable time and resources in the study and advancement of wetlands research and conservation projects, and strongly believe that the future of healthy wetlands and their benefits to society requires the cooperation of knowledge sharing and work between civil society and the government. Wetlands, particularly those located in Thailand and around Southeast Asia contain a great deal of biodiversity, some not found anywhere else on earth, but due to the increase of recent development projects, these special ecosystems are at great risk of disappearing altogether if more focus and work is not done to protect them. 

In 2014 CSDS kicked off the RECOVER project, aimed at undertaking “knowledge co-production” research in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, in order to contribute towards the recovery and more inclusive ecological governance of wetlands degraded by large water infrastructure and associated agro-ecological systems and livelihoods. We consider “knowledge co-production” to be the dynamic interaction of multiple actors, each with their own types of knowledge, that co-produces new usable knowledge specific to the social, cultural, and political context and that can influence decision-making and actions on-the-ground. For more about the RECOVER project, please visit the page here or read more about our field research case study. Download our related policy brief (pictured right) on recovery of wetlands, agroecological farming and livelihoods in Southeast Asia here.

For more information about World Wetlands Day and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official website.

UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Why Think Tanks and Civil Society Networks Matter: Towards a Creative Diplomacy Agenda" [29 January 2018]

Why Think Tanks and Civil Society Networks Matter

Towards a Creative Diplomacy Agenda:
Exploring New Approaches for Contemporary Transboundary Water Governance

Monday 29th January, 14:00-17:00 at the Saranitet Conference Room, 2nd floor, Main Auditorium, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Organized by: Chula Global Network (CGN), Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, and Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS), Chulalongkorn University

Asia has some of the world’s largest transboundary rivers, which are central to livelihoods, culture and economies. The need for cooperation along these rivers is more apparent than ever before as large hydropower dams, irrigation schemes and water diversions are promoted under regional economic development plans. Contestation over these plans and projects have occurred both between states sharing freshwater rivers, and various non-state actors including communities, civil society groups amongst others. Similarly, many countries of Asia share open seas that also require deepening cooperation. To ensure sustainable, inclusive and just sharing of transboundary waters requires a rethinking of existing practices and a critical deliberation of new concepts, research agendas, and approaches.

Knowledge among and between think tanks and civil society network is a crucial component of transboundary water governance. It is now widely recognized that addressing real-world complex water governance challenges requires the combination of a range of different types of knowledge, including academic, local, practical, and political knowledge. Whilst some knowledge producers are well-established and recognized, for example academic institutes, local communities, civil society groups and government agencies, other actors such as think tanks producing policy knowledge are relatively recent. How these forms of knowledge are combined and acted upon within policy and practice will be an important determinant of the outcomes of transboundary water governance.

In this seminar, representatives of academia, government, international organizations and think tanks will critically reflect on existing practices of transboundary water governance in Asia, and propose new concepts and approaches including on the role, strategies and possibilities for various forms of knowledge production.

Speakers:

  • Professor Imtiaz Ahmed, Centre for Genocide Studies University of Dhaka
  • Dr. John Dore, Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia
  • Ganesh Pangare, Asia-Pacific Regional Director, International Water Association
  • Dr. Sucharit Koonthanakulwong, UNESCO Chair on Water & Sustainable Development
  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University
  • Dr. Chariyaway Suntabutra, Former Ambassador of Thailand to Egypt, Kenya and Germany

 

For more information please contact Robert Irven (CSDS): csds.chulalongkorn@gmail.com

 

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IN THE NEWS: "'Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia': A book review"

By Andreea R. Torre [Stockholm Environment Institute Asia, 10 January 2018]

The newly published book, “Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change”, sets out to sensitize national and regional policy-agendas and responses to environmental disaster and climate change-related hazards – flood hazards in particular – to the complexities of human mobility in Southeast Asian contexts.

Co-edited by Carl Middleton, Rebecca Elmhirst, and Supang Chantavanich the volume uses empirical urban and rural case studies from eight different countries - Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia - to offer a nuanced and plural account of the causes and the multiple and intersecting environmental, social and political factors shaping everyday experiences of “living with floods” and mobility in the region.

 Disaster responses and policy agendas centering mainly on relocation to physically safer places without considering patterns of mobility, livelihood strategies and security cannot be successful (Source: SEI Asia)

Disaster responses and policy agendas centering mainly on relocation to physically safer places without considering patterns of mobility, livelihood strategies and security cannot be successful (Source: SEI Asia)

IN THE NEWS: "Flashing cash, China spearheads Mekong economic integration"

By Marwaan Macan-Markar [Nikkei Asian Review, 12 January 2018]

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang used a visit to Cambodia this week to strengthen China-led economic integration across mainland Southeast Asia. Li celebrated his embrace of multilateralism with an op-ed penned specially for a Cambodian newspaper, and basked in China's triumph with its five southerly neighbors, all of whom share the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river. 

"Being located downstream, the lower Mekong countries have long struggled to negotiate with China on its dam construction upstream," said Carl Middleton, director of the Center for Social Development Studies, at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok. "A weakness of the current Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework's approach is that there appears to be little interest by China to develop specific written rules for trans-boundary water sharing."

 Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

China's determined push into mainland Southeast Asia lays bare the limits of existing Mekong initiatives supported by Japan, the U.S. and other Western nations, all of which focused on the five basin countries but shut out China. They pose little challenge to China, and are short on the verbal fireworks over another body of water in Southeast Asia -- the disputed South China Sea.

Read full article at: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Flashing-cash-China-spearheads-Mekong-economic-integration?page=1

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: Communications Training [22 January 2018]

Communications training (social media and blogging) session organized prior to the “Greening Agri-food Systems, Ensuring Rural Sustainability and Promoting Healthy Socioeconomic Transformation in South-East Asia”

22 January 2017, 16:00-18:00 in Room 1213 (12th Floor) of the Chulalongkorn University School of Agricultural Resources (CUSAR), Wittayakit Bldg., Phyathai Rd., SIAM SQUARE, (same building as British Council), Pathumwan (Soi Chulalongkorn 64)

The Center for Social Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University (CSDS) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) are proud to announce a special communications training for researchers and academics to kick off the the upcoming Greening Agri-food Systems Conference. 

To engage audience and communicate effectively, your scientific messages need to be concise and clear. It is about making the audience understand why your research matter. It takes real skill to be an effective communicator, skills that must be developed and refined on an on-going basis. It is when scientific messages are communicated effectively across disciplines that science flourishes, and it advances uptake, collaboration and dialogue. Today, social media is one of the most common form for news and information uptake. People turn to Facebook or Twitter, rather than to the daily newspaper. Therefore, it is a great place to share your results and your thought-provoking new ideas.

However, to be part of social media is not only about communicating effectively and getting your voice heard, it is also a platform for interaction and building partnerships. Your audiences, whoever they may be, are there, for you to engage with and learn from. Storytelling is a useful and increasingly important method in which to do this, so this tool will also be a focus of the training, crafted in a way that is specific for researchers and academics.

In this workshop you will understand why social media can be meaningful, get the right tools for using and engaging audiences on social media, with specific focus on Twitter and Facebook, as well as some tips and tricks for writing blogs. We will then get the opportunity to apply what we learnt during the workshop at the following days conference "Greening Agri-food Systems, Ensuring Rural Sustainability and Promoting Healthy Socioeconomic Transformation in South-East Asia."

Please register by sending a request no later than Thursday 18th of January to: Anneli at anneli.sundin@sei-international.org and/or Bobby at rirven@gmail.com

 

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Anneli Sundin has a transdisciplinary background in sustainability science and has worked with science communication for a few years. At SEI she is responsible for providing strategic advice and delivery of professional communication activities relevant for the outreach of specific research projects. Her special competence lies in creating spaces for stakeholder dialogue, using storytelling in science communication, social media, short videos and photography. She has a great interest in topics related to sustainable agriculture and food security.

 
robert irven

Bobby Irven has a diverse education background, originally studying Chinese and Political Science during his undergrad, and last year completed his Master’s in International Development, conducting his research in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. His passions center around seeking justice for some of society’s most marginalized populations, particularly around the topics of human rights, environmental conservation and recently, topics of climate change. He believes in the practical use of research and academia in affecting and changing policy, and in his current role, strives to spread the Center’s wide range of publications and events throughout the region, impacting those who make decisions at the highest levels.

 

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UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Water (in)security and development in Southeast Asia: Inclusions, exclusions and transformations" [23 January]

Session organized for the “Greening Agri-food Systems, Ensuring Rural Sustainability and Promoting Healthy Socioeconomic Transformation in South-East Asia”

13:30-15:00, 23 January 2017, 7th Floor, Chamchuri 10 Building, Chulalongkorn University

Summative Event (23-25 January 2018) marking the 100th Anniversary of Chulalongkorn University (CU) at various locations around CU campus, Bangkok, Thailand

Our panel considers conflicts over access to, control over and use of water and natural resources at scales ranging from the interstate to the individual. We consider the implications of deepening market integration into resource use and governance, and how it produces exclusions for some to the benefit of others. We explore the implications of large-scale developments tied to regional economic integration both in Southeast Asia, such as large-scale dams. We also focus on the extension of market relations at a more local scale, and how this entails “intimate” processes of exclusion that contrast with the more high-profile and more overtly violent exclusions.

Presenters:

To register for this event, please click here. Conference details are available here

Co-organized by UNESCO, Chulalongkorn University (Various Faculties, Research Centers, Schools and Academic Programs); Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC), Ministry of Education, Thailand; Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI Asia); the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI); Expert Group on Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture (HESA) and Food Systems in Southeast Asia” housed in Chulalongkorn University, School of Agricultural Resources (CUSAR) and UNESCO Bangkok, under the auspices of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme.

 

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IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mae Sam Laep, Thailand

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mae Sam Laep, Thailand

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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