• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Climate

The course will introduce students to multiple drivers of social conflict against the backdrop of environmental change over the past century in Asia and the Pacific. Such challenges and conflicts emerge out of historical, social, economic, political, religious and cultural movements and debates, often linked to wider global forces. Topics include: the impact of colonialism, the politics of gender, nationalism and the environment; the postcolonial state and its role in conflict and environmental degradation. We also explore how indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions that have been enrolled in the service of an ecological ethic and the kind of ideologies and activities have inspired environmental activism .

More generally, the course is considers the critical question: how have Asian and Pacific societies redefined their relationship to the environment from the colonial period until present day. We investigate the relationships between environmental degradation, urbanization, migration, technological change and public health to reveal the critical role that state and non-state actors play in influencing social conflict and mediation.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate advanced analytical, research, and communication skills drawing on anthropological, historical and interdisciplinary sources 
2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skill sets to engage successfully and critically in civil society projects across a variety of urban, regional and rural settings
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the history and theory of environmental change and social conflict across the Asia Pacific.
4. Demonstrate expertise in specialist fields and sub-fields of environment and development studies. 

Indicative Assessment

Research Essay  2000 words  30%  Critical analysis of scholarship, writing and resources on and about social impacts leading to conflict due to and exacerbated by environmental change. [ Learning outcomes 1 and 3] 

Contribution Reports in Tutorials Proforma  20%    Demonstrate communication skills involved in scholarly inquiry and critical review of issues pertinent to the course content and specialist topics addressed in lectures  [Learning Outcomes 1 & 2]  

Final Essay 4000  50%  Demonstrate an informed and critical  appreciation of selected course themes and debates around conflict and environmental change at postgraduate level of scholarship.  [Learning outcomes 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


One 3 hour seminar per week, plus 7-8 hours of independent study.

Prescribed Texts

Scott J 1998 Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, Yale University Press. 
Tsing A 2005  Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton University Press. 

Preliminary Reading

Anderson, W (1995) “Excremental Colonialism: public health and the poetics of pollution” Critical Inquiry 21(3): 640-669
Ballard C and G Banks: Resource Wars: The Anthropology of Mining, Annual Review of Anthropology, v32:281-313 
Baviskar, A (2000), ‘Claims to knowledge, Claims to control: Environmental Conflict and the Great Himalayan National Park, India” in in Roy Ellen et al, Indigenous environmental knowledge and it transformations: critical anthropological perspectives (Harwood), pp. 101-120.
Chakrabarty, D (2009) “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35, no. 2 (2009): 197–222
Crang M, Nicky Gregson, Farid Ahamed, Raihana Ferdous and Nasreen Akhter (2012) “Death of the Phoenix and Pandora: transforming things of value in Bangladesh” in Catherine Alexander and Joshua Reno (eds.), Economies of Recycling: The global transformation of materials, values and social relations (London: Zed Books)
Doron, A & Raja I (2015) ‘The Cultural Politics of Shit’, Journal of Postcolonial Studies (forthcoming)
Jacka J 2001  Coca Cola and Kolo: Land Ancestors and Development, Anthropology Today V17 1-8. 
Li T M 2014  Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier, Duke University Press. 
Li T (2000) ‘Locating Indigenous Environmental Knowledge in Indonesia’ in Roy Ellen et al, Indigenous environmental knowledge and it transformations: critical anthropological perspectives (Harwood), pp. 120-147.
McWilliam A.R. (2015) ‘Hunting and Harvesting the Commons: On the cultural politics of custom in East Timor’, in R Feijo and S Viegas (eds) Co-habitations and Power Dynamics: Land, Exchange, and Governance Contexts for Timor-Leste. ICS:  Lisbon [forthcoming] 
Shepherd C.J. and McWilliam A, 2014 ‘Divide and cultivate: plantations, militarism and environment in Portuguese Timor, 1860-1975’. In F. Uekoetter, ed. Comparing Apples, Oranges, and Cotton: Environmental Histories of the Global Plantation. Campus Verlag: Frankfurt, & New York,  pp139-166.
Shah, A (2007) ‘The Dark Side of Indigeneity?: Indigenous People, Rights and Development in India’, History Compass, 5(6): 1806-1832.
Tsing A 2005  Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton University Press. 
Xin Tong, Jici Wang (2012) “The shadow of the global network: e-waste flows to china” in Catherine Alexander and Joshua Reno (eds.), Economies of Recycling: The global transformation of materials, values and social relations (London: Zed Books)
Yusoff, K (2015) “Anthropogenesis: Origins and Endings in the Anthropocene” Theory, Culture and Society (Online First)
Zimmerman, F (2014) “The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats: an ecological theme in Hindu Medicine” in Dove, M (ed), The Anthropology of Climate Change (Wiley Balckwell: Oxford)


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8634 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person View

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