• 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, Public Health
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Muhammad Kavesh
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Winter Session 2023
    See Future Offerings

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

The course will be of particular interest to students intending to pursue a career in the Asian and Pacific region. It will also be of interest to those seeking to expand their expertise in a range of practical topics related to governments, non-government organisations, development agencies, education sectors, media, public health directives, gender relations, global trade practices, and climate policy initiatives.  

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of social conflict and environmental change across Asia and the Pacific.
  2. Build an intercultural knowledge and skill set necessary to engage successfully and critically in applied projects across a variety of urban, regional and rural settings.
  3. Understand and apply a range of perspectives to engage with critical issues facing Asia and the Pacific.
  4. Conduct independent research related to social conflict and environmental challenges, drawing on anthropological, historical and interdisciplinary sources.
  5. Communicate findings effectively to specialist and/or professional audiences.

Other Information

This course will start on Monday 3 July when students can access wattle and reading resources.

First introductory Zoom seminar: Friday 7 July (6-8 PM, all times henceforth are AEST)


Then we will have 2 hour long seminars each week (5 seminars for 3 weeks: 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 July). These will be timetabled and made available in Zoom/Echo 360 format, appearing twice a week. Engaging with the pre-recorded lectures through embedded online activities will contribute to students’ overall participation in the course.


These pre-recorded lectures will cover the chief issues driving environmental issues, social conflicts, policy, and practice in Asia and the Pacific. Some of the lectures will be presented by guest speakers who are experts in these fields. Topics will include Ethnonational Conflict; Land Grabs and Governance; Climate Change; Access to Justice; and more. Engaging in discussions will contribute to student’s overall participation in the course.


1 August (Assessment 1 is due. Reflective essay, 20%)


In the lead-up to the intensive face-to-face component, students will have approximately 10 hours of pre-recorded lectures. 


5-6 Aug (9-5 PM AEST): Intensive online live Lecture, tutorials, and class presentations. During these days, we will cover topics such as conflict, land governance, water security, migration and labour, gender, and climate change, among others. This component will include tutorials, discussions in groups, and class presentations by students, to help with their main essay. 


The class will end on 5 September when the final essay due.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Seminar participation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Discussion posts (35) [LO 2,3,4,5]
  3. In-class presentation (20) [LO 4,5]
  4. Research Essay (3000 words) (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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.


This course requires a total of 130 hrs commitment, including of independent study.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

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 (2013) "Resource Wars: The Anthropology of Mining," Annual Review of Anthropology, 32: 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 

Shah, A (2007) ‘The Dark Side of Indigeneity?: Indigenous People, Rights and Development in India’, History Compass, 5(6): 1806-1832.

Rademacher, A & Sivaramakrishnan, S. (2013, eds). Ecologies of Urbanism in India (Hong Kong University Press)


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2023 $3960
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2023 $5820
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4579 03 Jul 2023 11 Jul 2023 21 Jul 2023 05 Sep 2023 Online View

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