My current research examines the political ecology of seasonal air pollution in northern Thailand. Air pollution now affects 92 percent of the global population and is responsible for one out of every nine deaths on the planet, nearly two-thirds of which occur in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. This project employs mixed ethnographic, quantitative, and geospatial methods to investigate the question: What are the socio-ecological drivers and consequences of seasonal air pollution crises? As anthropogenic environmental change intensifies globally, my work advances understandings of how such change registers as a crisis (or not) and has significant implications for environmental policy, politics and practice. Supported by a National Science Foundation Cultural Anthropology Senior Research Award, I document this work in a range of publications (see Google Scholar) and in my book manuscript, “Unnatural Air: Pollution, Tourism and Agrarian Change in Northern Thailand."
This work dovetails with my forthcoming collaborative project on Transboundary Air Pollution and the Socio-Ecological Impact of China’s Belt-Road Initiative in Myanmar and Thailand. Spanning 65 countries which collectively account for one-third of the global GDP and 60 percent of the world’s population, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the world’s largest infrastructure development scheme ever conceived. This project brings an integrated ethnographic and geospatial lens to current debates by comparatively investigating the socio-ecological implications of BRI in Myanmar and Thailand. This project is supported by a collaborative USD $1,000,000 Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
These projects are being carried out in collaboration with the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development and the School of Public Policy at Chiang Mai University.