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Webinar: Materiality Matters: Nature, Commodification, and Resistance in the Mekong Region


The Mekong region has undergone rapid economic development the past few decades which is underscored by the commodification of land and natural resources. This has led to environmental degradation, loss of resource-based livelihoods, and dispossession. These processes of commodification and their impacts, and the forms of resistance against dispossession, are contingent on the conditions of the biophysical environment, among other factors. In our talk comparing the Mekong River and the insurgent forests of Burma, we discuss how the politics of commodification and resistance are shaped by nature’s materiality.


Dr. Kevin Woods is a political ecologist and human geography who studies land and resource politics and ethnic-based conflict in the Mekong region. He has published widely on resources, rebellion and environmental peacebuilding in academic journals and policy reports, such as “ceasefire capitalism” (2011) in Journal of Peasant Studies, “conservation as counterinsurgency” (2020) in Political Geography, “rebel territory in a resource frontier” (2021) in Geoforum, and Natural Resource Governance Reform and the Peace Process in Myanmar (2019) with Forest Trends. Kevin recently published a co-edited book with the University of Washington Press titled, Turning land into capital: Development and dispossession in the Mekong region. He is a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai‘i and adjunct Assoc. Prof. at the Dept. of Geography and Environment at UH-Mānoa.

Dr. Ming Li is currently a Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. She researches transboundary water governance in the Mekong River Basin, particularly issues relating to community-based natural resource management, civil society movements and strategies, public participation, and the institutional arrangements that influence the politics of water resources development. She obtained her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Sydney in 2019, and has taught courses on environmental ethics, food, and sustainability as a Part-Time Lecturer at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, and as a Lecturer at The School for Field Studies’ Center for Conservation Studies and Development and the Pannasastra University of Cambodia in Siem Reap.

Dr. Micah Fisher, Research Fellow at EWC

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