Laur KIIK - Tokyo College
Postdoctoral Fellow


Research Field Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, Natural Resources, Wildlife;
Kachin people, Burma (Myanmar), China, India;
Interdisciplinary Asian Studies, Anthropology, Biodiversity Conservation
01 Description of Research

Global environmental crisis, political nationalism, and China’s rise are each changing our world. But how do they connect?

I explore these connections in a large but understudied region where China and India meet the long wars of Burma (Myanmar), a country that has not had a day of peace since the Second World War. These subtropical highlands are a patchwork of Christian and Buddhist peoples and nationalist movements, amid exceptional natural resources and biodiversity.

Specifically, I have since 2010 studied the Kachin national movement and its war-time encounters with: 1) the Burmese inter-ethnic conflict; 2) Chinese-led natural resource economies; and 3) Western-led biodiversity conservation.

My research shows how nature, nation, and economy can become so entangled that they cannot be understood separately. Thus, I try to integrate insights from across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Please feel welcome to email me to discuss shared interests.

02 Short Biography

2022–                  Postdoctoral Fellow, Tokyo College, Tokyo University, Japan

2021                    PhD, Anthropology, Oxford University, UK

2013–2016          Researcher, Southeast Asian Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia

2012                    MA, Anthropology, Columbia University, US

2010–                  Volunteer teacher, Kachin community-based colleges, Burma (Myanmar)

2009                    BA, Asian Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia

2008                    Diploma in advanced Chinese, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China

03 Publications and Other Research Activities

The Chinese Myitsone Mega-Project in Kachin, Burma:

2020   Confluences amid Conflict: How Resisting China’s Myitsone Dam Project Linked Kachin and Bamar Nationalisms in War-Torn Burma. Journal of Burma Studies 24 (2): 229–273.

2020   Inter-National Conspiracy? Speculating on the Myitsone Dam Controversy in China, Burma, Kachin, and a Displaced Village. Geopolitics [online first].

2017   (co-authors: Foran et al). Large Hydropower and Legitimacy: A Policy Regime Analysis, Applied to Myanmar. Energy Policy 110: 619–30.

2016   Nationalism and Anti-Ethno-Politics: Why ‘Chinese Development’ Failed at Myanmar’s Myitsone Dam. Eurasian Geography and Economics 57 (3): 374–402.


Kachin: Nation, Nature, Religion, War:

2016   Conspiracy, God’s Plan, and National Emergency: Kachin Popular Analyses of the Ceasefire Era and its Resource Grabs. In War and Peace in the Borderlands of Myanmar: The Kachin Ceasefire, 1994–2011, edited by M. Sadan, 205–235. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.


Anthropology & Nature Conservation:

2019   Conservationland: Toward the Anthropology of Professionals in Global Nature Conservation. Critique of Anthropology 39 (4): 391–419.

2018   Wild-ing the Ethnography of Conservation: Writing Nature’s Value and Agency In. Anthropological Forum 28 (3): 217–235.