REPORT: The Environment - Contested Knowledge of the Commons in Southeast Asia (CRISEA Working Paper 1)


Publication date:
March 2019

The Environment - Contested Knowledge of the Commons in Southeast Asia (CRISEA Working Paper 1)

Tomasz Kamiński, Monika Arnez, Carl Middleton, Sally Beckenham, Robert A. Farnan, David Chu, Edyta Roszko, Amnuayvit Thitibordin, Andrea Valente, Michał Zaręba

Download the report here.

Environmental questions are at the heart of many development dilemmas in Southeast Asia. New actors and technologies, changing domestic politics, policies, and economies - as well as shifting geopolitical contexts, are remaking nature-society relations in the region. A failure to address transnational environmental challenges could not only undermine ASEAN’s legitimacy but also have drastic consequences for the region’s security and its political and economic stability.

In addressing these questions in this Working Paper, we are particularly concerned with contested knowledges of “the commons” and competition over resources. We consider the environment as a driver of processes of regional integration, but also of conflicts between various actors in the region. Our research focuses on three environmental contexts namely: sea; rivers; and air. In addressing all three our emphasis is on the transition to a low-carbon economy. Grounded in a multidisciplinary approach, our research shares a common conceptual framework, centred on the co-production of ecological knowledge and ecological governance.

Drawing on the work of Sheila Jasanoff (2004), Shubhra Gururani and Peter Vandergeest (2014), amongst others, we consider the production, circulation, acquisition and assimilation of ecological knowledge at, and across the local, national and global levels and its relationship to ecological governance. Based on macro and micro case studies, we relate this dynamic process of co-production to other concepts, including reterritorialization; feminist political ecology, hydropolitics, and paradiplomacy (international relations conducted by subnational governments on their own). The aim of this paper is to present the theoretical framework of our work as well as the three main strands of our research. In the first section, we explain our understanding of the concept of ecological knowledge. This is followed by a presentation of our methodological approaches, while the last section presents the individual research projects in the WP, arranged in three modules.

Please contact Dr. Carl Middleton for more information.

Citation: Kamiński, T., Arnez, M., Middleton, C., Beckenham, S., Farnan, R.A., Chu, D., Roszko, E., Thitibordin, A., Valente, A., and Zaręba, M. (2019) The Environment - Contested Knowledge of the Commons in Southeast Asia (CRISEA Working Paper 1). Competing Regional Integrations in Southeast Asia (CRISEA) Working Paper No. 1 (March 2019).

This report is part of our project Water governance and knowledge production on the Lancang-Mekong River. You can visit the project page here.