Researching rupture: understanding socio-ecological transformations in Southeast Asia

Crawford School of Public Policy | ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 10 July 2018


Canberry /Springbank Room, Level 1, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU


Christian Lund, Jonathan Rigg, Philip Hirsch, Ben Kerkvliet


Keith Barney
6125 4957

Supported by the ARC and College of Asia and the Pacific’s Asia Pacific Innovation Program

Investments in large-scale resource and infrastructure development have helped propel mainland Southeast Asia’s impressive record of economic growth since the 1990s. New industrial commodity and extractive booms in the region’s resource frontiers have also catalysed dramatic social, institutional and environmental change— a process we call socio-ecological ‘rupture’.

A new ARC Discovery project hosted at the Crawford School, Rupture: Nature-Society Transformations in Mainland Southeast Asia, aims to better understand the cumulative environmental transformations and stark social dislocations arising out of these transformations, and to draw out their social and political implications.

A group of international scholars is visiting ANU for an inception workshop. It will collectively help the project team hone the framing analytical approaches, and clarify the core transformation processes that this new research will include in its investigations. At the open roundtable event, the invited scholars will present some of their past work that has empirically investigated the entanglements of environmental and social-political change. Short interventions by invited scholars will form the basis for an interactive discussion with participants, moderated by the project team.

The session is open to all in the ANU community and beyond. We particularly invite Doctoral students and Early Career Researchers to make use of this unique learning opportunity. In order to facilitate a rich discussion, we invite participants to familiarize themselves with the four publications listed below prior to the event.

Preparatory readings

Hirsch, P. 2017. Integration, fragmentation and assemblage in the Mekong: Elaborating on responses to Shifting Regional Geopolitics. Political Geography. 58: 142-144.

Kerkvliet, B. 2014. Protests over land in Vietnam: Rightful resistance and more. Journal of Vietnamese Studies. 9 (3): 19–54.

Lund, C. 2016. Rule and rupture: State formation through the production of property and citizenship. Development and Change. 47 (6): 1199–1228.

Rigg, J., K. Oven, G. Basyal, R. Lamichhane. 2016. Between a rock and a hard place: Vulnerability and precarity in rural Nepal. Geoforum. 76: 63-74.

Please contact a member of the project team, listed below, if you require access to the preparatory readings.

Project team

Sango Mahanty Email:

Sarah Milne Email:

Phuc Xuan To Email:

Keith Barney Email:

Partner Investigator:

Philip Hirsch Email:


Wolfram Dressler Email:

Invited scholars

Christian Lund is a professor at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author of Law, Power and Politics in Niger. Land Struggles and the Rural Code (Lit Verlag/Transaction Publishers) and Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa (Cambridge University Press). He is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Nine-tenths of the law. Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia.

Jonathan Rigg is Director of the Asia Research Institute and Professor of Geography at the National University of Singapore. He works on issues of agrarian transformation, poverty, vulnerability, migration, disaster and livelihoods in the Asian region, and has worked in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He published Challenging Southeast Asian development: the shadows of success (Routledge 2015), which explores the underside of rapid economic growth and structural change. His latest book, More than rural: textures of Thailand’s agrarian transformation is in currently in press (Hawaii University Press).

Philip Hirsch is Emeritus Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sydney. He is based in Thailand and affiliated with the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University. He works on questions of environment, development and agrarian change in Thailand and the Mekong region. Some recent works include Powers of Exclusion: Land dilemmas in Southeast Asia (with Hall and Li, Singapore University/Hawaii University 2011), The Mekong: A socio-legal approach to river basin development (with Boer, Johns, Saul & Scurrah, Earthscan/Routledge 2016) and Routledge Handbook of Environment in Southeast Asia (Routledge 2017).

Ben Kerkvliet is an Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University. He is currently researching forms of public political criticism in Vietnam and how state authorities react. His previous research emphasized agrarian politics in the Philippines and Vietnam, leading to the publication The Power of Everyday Politics: how Vietnamese peasants transformed national policy (Cornell 2005).

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