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SEA Studies Seminar – Michaelmas 2013

The term card for the Southeast Asian Studies seminar series has been released. Seminars will be held at the Deakin Room, St Antony’s College, from 2-3.30pm on Wednesdays in Weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7. The seminar is convened by Dr Matthew Walton.

The first seminar on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 is The emerging agro-industrial complex in Burma: The politics of land reform, land grabs and resistances, and the Chinese presence’ by Kevin Woods (Environmental Studies, Policy and Management Department, UC-Berkeley).


Kevin Woods has been engaged in research and activism on land politics in Burma for over a decade. His initial research focused on the Burma-China timber trade, but since then has expanded to include research on the country’s emerging agribusiness sector as the frontline of land grabs and conflict. Most of his work has focused on examining Chinese agribusiness in northern Burma as part of China’s opium substitution programme, and its entanglements with drug militias, counterinsurgency and land grabs. Most recently Kevin has conducted participatory action research on farmers’ resistances to land grabs during the current reform period under the new military-backed government. Kevin’s land reform research at the national scale, supported by specific cases studies in contested ethnic resource-rich territories, allows him to go beyond the veneer of ‘the new Myanmar’ to understand how Burma’s infamous military institution and crony capitalism begin to merge with neoliberal development, this time backed by western development aid and finance institutions.

About the Speaker 

Kevin is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California-Berkeley in the Environmental Studies, Policy and Management Department (ESPM) in the Society and Environment Division as a political ecologist and geographer. He also serves as a research analyst for both the Transnational Institute (TNI) based in Amsterdam and for Forest Trends based in Washington, DC. Kevin’s academic research, theoretical toolkit, and NGO affiliations are oriented such that his collaborative work with local community activist networks attempts to overcome the problems uncovered by research.

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