Maylee Thavat's picture

Maylee Thavat

Visiting Fellow, Crawford School


PhD (ANU), M Dev Stud (Uni Melb), BA (Uni Auckland)

Contact details

I like working on wicked problems.

Exploring the curly questions of our time: economic/cultural globalisation, climate change and technology and specifically what these mean for poverty, inequality and development is what makes me tick.

It all began in 2002 when I investigated how to mainstream ethical consumer behaviour within major Australian supermarkets as a way to make development and poverty issues “about us, not them”. Here, I explored what it would really take to make “fair trade” a truly viable solution at scale by interviewing industry insiders and analysing trade and consumer purchasing data for a specific commodity - coffee.

In 2003, I moved to Cambodia to explore the fissures and tensions surrounding the transition of a fragile and conflict affected country from humanitarian assistance to “slow stream” development through the promotion of commodity exports. For three years I traversed the marginal edges of Cambodia’s rural communities to investigate how “markets for the poor” efforts sought to transform low value, subsistence-oriented smallholder farmers into profit maximising SMEs. During this research, I also conducted major research consultancies for clients such as NZAID, ACIL-Cardno, RECOFTC and Oxfam America.

Building greater awareness and understanding of the opportunities and threats associated with climate change and environment within the Australian Agency for International Development was my next major project. Spanning 2010 to 2014, I worked within the agency and as a consultant with ODI UK to help integrate climate, environment and disaster risk reduction considerations within the Australian aid portfolio. This work included an institutional analysis of the agency itself to better understand what incentives, imperatives, resources and contextual forces were likely to impede or encourage more integrated approaches.

An opportunity in 2016 to present at an environment workshop on Myanmar at Oxford University brought together my research interests in climate, livelihoods and technology. I’m currently scoping out new research around distributed energy, connectivity and the implications for state-society relations in Myanmar. The confluence between accelerating technologies and social and environmental innovation is now an increasing area of interest for my work.

Research interests

Agricultural development, climate change, trade, technology, public policy


Feb 2015 - Nov 2015, Tutor, RE&D, Crawford School, ANU 1. ‘Food Wars: Food Security and Agricultural Policy’ 2. ‘Resource Management in Indigenous Communities’

July 2011 – July 2012, Course Coordinator, Masters of Applied Anthropology & Participatory Development, ANU 1. ‘Internships’ 2. ‘Critically Assessing Contemporary Development Practice Research Course’.

Jun 2009 – Jun 2010, Tutor, Masters Applied Anthropology & Participatory Development, ANU 1. ‘Social Mapping, Local Knowledge & Community Politics’ 2. ‘Key Concepts in the Anthropology of Development’

Mar 2007 – Jun 2007, Tutor, Deakin University, Department of Anthropology 1. The Anthropology of Poverty & Development’

Mar 2002 - Jun 2003 , Tutor, School of Anthropology, Geography and Environmental Studies, The University of Melbourne 1. ‘The Mobile World: Migration and Tourism’ 2. ‘Landscapes of Power’

Updated:  24 March 2017/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team