Brief biographies of participants
Martin Smith is an independent analyst who has researched and reported about Burma/Myanmar and ethnic nationality affairs since the early 1980s for a variety of media, non-governmental and academic organizations. He is author of Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity (Zed Books). Other publications include Ethnic Groups in Burma: Development, Democracy and Human Rights (ASI), Fatal Silence? Freedom of Expression and the Right to Health in Burma (Article 19), Burma (Myanmar): The Time for Change (Minority Rights Group), and State of Strife: The Dynamics of Ethnic Conflict in Burma (East-West Center Washington). He was also an independent expert member of the Three Diseases Fund Board (2006-12).
Dr Lee Jones is senior lecturer in international politics and director of research in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London. He specialises in the politics of sovereignty, intervention and governance in developing countries, particularly Southeast Asia, and has published work on security issues, statebuilding and regime transitions. His latest publication relevant to this workshop is 'The Political Economy of Myanmar's Transition', Journal of Contemporary Asia (forthcoming, 2014), available on his website: www.leejones.tk.
Dr Ho Ts’ui P’ing is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Ethnology at Academia Sinica, and an adjunct associate professor in the Institute of Anthropology at National Tsing Hua University. She has worked for many years in the Jingpo region of Yunnan and is the co-editor of State, Market and Ethnic Groups Contextualized. Her latest book, co-edited with David Faure is Chieftains into Ancestors: Imperial Expansion and Indigenous Society in Southwest China (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013).
Professor Robert Anderson is Professor of Communication, Simon Fraser University in Canada. Author of many books and articles, since 1998 he has been helping young environmentalists from many disciplines to strengthen their capacity to do research and to influence the development of environmental policy and law in Myanmar. The project is supported by the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa. He has also for many years been researching the intellectual career of Edmund Leach, whose seminal work on the Kachin region, Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure (London, 1954) has influenced so many. A manuscript titled Highland Burma, Edmund Leach, and Anthropology in Guerilla Warfare is currently in preparation.
Dr Enze Han received his PhD in Political Science from the George Washington University. He is currently Lecturer in the International Security of East Asia in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, University of London. His research interests include ethnic politics in China and China's foreign relations, especially with Southeast Asia. His first monograph was Contestation and Adaptation:The Politics of National Identity in China (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), but he has written many articles on the politics of ethnic identity in China, particularly in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Sipsongpanna.
Dr Joy Pachuau is Associate Professor in History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her historical research focuses on European expansion in Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly the role of Portuguese missionaries. However, she also has major research interests in the socio-cultural history of Northeast India, particularly the history of the Mizo region. She also obtained a DPhil in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford and during 2011-13 worked collaboratively with Professor Willem van Schendel (University of Amsterdam) on a UGC Major Research Project, “Seeing the past through the visual; the creation of the photographic archive of the Mizos” exploring, among other things, the social impact of the Mizo Peace Accord since 1986.
Nhkum Bu Lu is originally from Kachin State and has been living in the UK for nearly a decade. She has four children living in different parts of the world as part of the recent diaspora of young Kachin people who have left to work and study abroad. Because her husband, Mahkaw Hkun Sa, was imprisoned as a political prisoner, she was forced to raise her family more or less single handed. She will talk about her experience of the transition from civil war to ceasefire and how Kachin women have managed both the domestic economy and the economy of conflict during these years.
Kai Htang Lashi is a young activist originally from the northern Shan State. She has been in the UK for nearly a decade. She studied Economics in Yangon University and came to the UK to continue her studies. She is active as a Trustee of the Kachin Relief Fund but has also in recent years gained experience of advocacy for Kachin political issues abroad with a focus on human rights issues.
Dr Mandy Sadan is Lecturer in the History of South East Asia at SOAS, University of London. She has been researching the social and cultural history of the Kachin region since the mid-1990s and has written a number of articles. Her first monograph is Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma (Oxford: British Academy & Oxford University Press, 2013).
Hkun Sa Mahkaw was previously General Secretary of the Kachin National Congress for Democracy Party in Kachin State, which won three seats in the 1990 election. Subsequently, he was imprisoned for seven years (being sentenced for ten) as a political prisoner. He was trained as a Lawyer in Burma and has gone on to specialise on constitutional law. He was elected as General Secretary of the Ethnic Nationalities Council and was Chair of the Kachin State Constitution Drafting Committee. He is presently a member of the Central Committee of the Kachin National Organistion and a member of the Constitutional Committee of the UNFC.
Hkanhpa Tu Sadan is General Secretary of the Kachin National Council, Kachin National Organisation. He is one of the founding members of the exile Kachin political movement based in the UK but with branches across Europe, the USA and Asia.
Hkun Nawng is a Kachin student studying Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a member of the All Kachin Student and Youth Union (AKSYU). Before coming to the UK, he was an activist working along the Thai-Burma border working on issues relating to human rights.
Gumring Hkangda is a student of development and social anthropology at the University of Sussex. He is presently working on cultural research projects on behalf of the Brighton Pavilion and Museum, which has extensive Kachin artefacts.
Laur Kiik is an anthropologist and Junior Researcher of Southeast Asian Studies at the Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University. He researches how radically different subjectivities, ontologies, and political projects interact and conflict within environmental conservation, natural resource extraction, ethnic nationalisms, and indigenous Christian theology in Kachin land in northern Burma/Myanmar. He completed a MA in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University in 2012. He has made a number of presentations about his work on environmental subjectivities at institutions in the UK and US and is now preparing articles on his research for publication.
Dr Gustaaf Houtman is a social anthropologist whose research has focused mainly on Buddhist practices and traditions in Burma, including soteriological liberation discourses associated with vipassana (insight contemplation) and samatha (concentration meditation) deployed by national leaders including by Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi and others. His monograph Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics: Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy was published in 1999 (Tokyo: Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies). He obtained his PhD in Social Anthropology in 1990, where he continues to teach and research. He is also the editor of Anthropology Today, the bimonthly journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
Kevin Woods has been engaged in research and activism on land politics in Burma for 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 front line of land grabs, conflict and resistances. Kevin is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at UC-Berkeley in the Environmental studies, Policy and Management Dept. (ESPM). as well as research analyst for both the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Forest Trends.
Nbyen Dan Hkung Awng is currently Charles Wallace Burma Trust Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, having previously studied in Singapore. When in the Kachin State, he works on a wide range of local community development projects. He is founder of the online 'Kachin Library' (soon to be republished) and is also actively involved in improving the delivery of social science education to local young people.
Dr. Reshmi Banerjee is a visiting scholar in SOAS, working on the issue of land conflicts in Burma. She is currently also the Visiting Professor in the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research (C-NES) in Jamia University (JMI), New Delhi, India. Reshmi is a political scientist with specialization in food security and agricultural policies. She completed her graduation in political science from Lady Sriram College (LSR), Delhi University (India) and has a MA, M.Phil and Ph.D in the subject from the Centre for Political Studies (CPS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi (India). Her interest in research earned her a post-doctoral fellowship in the department of international relations, University of Indonesia (UI), Jakarta where she worked on the non-farm sector in India and China along with a one year special research paper on political and cultural diplomacy in Asean-China relations. She was also a researcher in the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jakarta where she worked on the impact of climatic changes in Indonesia.
Dr Matthew Walton is Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. He obtained his PhD in Political Science from George Washington University. His PhD research was a work of comparative political theory that draws attention to how religious beliefs can generate fundamentally different conceptions of what is political. His main areas of research are Burmese Buddhist political thought and ethnic identity and conflict in Myanmar. He contributes to media discussions of contemporary politics (see, for example 'A Primer on the Roots of Buddhist/Muslin Conflict in Myanmar, and A way Forward') and his recently peer-reviewed published work has included "The ‘‘Wages of Burman-ness:’’ Ethnicityand Burman Privilege in Contemporary Myanmar' in Journal of Contemporary Asia, 43:1 (2013), 1-27.
Patrick Meehan Patrick Meehan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. His research interests are focused on the political economy of drugs and state formation in post-colonial Burma, specifically Shan State. He has been conducting field research in both Burma and on the Thai-Burma border since 2011. Publications to date include “Drugs, insurgency and state-building in Burma: Why the drugs trade is central to Burma's changing political order”, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, (2011), 42:3
Correspondence in connection with his presentation should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Mears as been Keeper of World Art at Brighton & Hove Pavilion and Museum since 2008, where she has oversight of the Burma collections, including a large collection relating to the Kachin region. The James Green Charitable Trust in collaboration with the museum have engaged in many local research projects, particularly in relation to textile production and historical photography. Helen is currently working towards a PhD at Brighton University, in which she will reflect upon the museum's work in Burma, particularly working with Kachin communities there and in the UK. In 2005-08 she was African Diaspora Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and has published two papers from this research, including 'Museums, African Collections and Social Justice' (with Wayne Modest) in Richard Sandell and Eithne Nightingale (eds.), Museums, Equality and Social Justice (Routledge, 2012).
Janet Zuo has just completed her MA in Social Anthropology of Development at SOAS, University of London. Her masters dissertation considered aspects of Chinese overseas investment in the Myitsone case, trying to place this in the context of Chinese business practices.
Dr Bianca Son Suantak completed her PhD in History at SOAS, University of London in 2013. Her thesis was titled "The Reinvention of the Zo: The Chin, the Lushai and the Kuki 1826 –1917 and 1940 –1988". She is the daughter of the renowned Zo historian and intellectual Dr Vumson Suantak, author of Zo History: with an introduction to Zo culture, economy, religion and their status as an ethnic minority in India, Burma, and Bangladesh (Aizawl, India, c.1986), which has been the main history on Zo secular history before the completion of Bianca's own thesis. Bianca's interests are diverse and include Organizational Psychology, Marketing and Brand Management, nativism, identity politics and the roles of elites. She is active member of the Chin Forum (http://www.chinforum.org)