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Producing Poverty and Prosperity in Southeast Asia: Methodological and Empirical Reflections

  • International Affairs Building, Room 918, Columbia University 420 West 118th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Please join us at Weatherhead East Asian Institute for a lecture with:

Speaker: Jonathan Rigg, Professor of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol

Moderator: Lien-Hang Nguyen, Dorothy Borg Associate Professor in the History of the United States and East Asia, Department of History, Columbia University

This event is one of Weatherhead East Asian Institute’s Lectures and Panels.

Why has aggregate economic expansion in Southeast Asia so often been accompanied by individual and community decline? How do we explain the persistence of poverty in the context of growing wealth? These are old questions but they have not been adequately answered, let alone resolved; they remain pertinent and vital at national and individual levels. In this talk, Professor Rigg will bring together work from across Southeast Asia to argue that illuminating this puzzle requires that we go beyond explanations rooted in the political economy of inequality and instead pay attention, first, to academic questions of methodology and academic framing and, further, to empirical issues linked of trans-local relations and emergent articulations of deprivation. He does this by connecting land reclamation in Singapore with sand mining in coastal Cambodia, livestock-raising in peri-urban Hanoi with maize cultivation in upland Houaphan, isolation in Flores with integration in Luang Prabang, and vulnerable farming in Khon Kaen with precarious industrial work in Ayutthaya. Each of these pairings opens up a different view onto the issue of the co-production of wealth and poverty across the Southeast Asian region.

 About the Speaker:

Jonathan Rigg holds a professorship in the School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol in the UK. Until this year, he was Director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. His research focuses on agrarian conditions and transformations in Asia, and since the early 1980s he has conducted fieldwork in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Over more than 30 years, he has worked on rice variety selection strategy, rural livelihoods, rural-urban relations, migration and mobility, disaster preparedness, and climate change resilience. This year he has published three books that reflect his interests: More than rural: textures of Thailand’s agrarian transformation (Hawaii University Press); People and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Social Justice (edited with Lisa Reyes Mason) (Oxford University Press); and The Asian smallholder: transformation and persistence (edited with Eric Thompson and Jamie Gillen) (Amsterdam University Press).

No registration required.

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