• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Climate, Public Health
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Assa Doron
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Offered in Winter Session 2025
    See Future Offerings

The course will introduce students to multiple drivers of past, present, and future societal and environmental challenges in Asia and the Pacific. Such challenges and conflicts emerge out of historical, social, economic, political, religious, and cultural movements and debates, and are often linked to wider global forces. Topics include: the impact of colonialism, nationalism and the environment, plantation crises, land grabs, deforestation, decolonization, and the potential role of the postcolonial state in conflict and environmental degradation. We also use anthropological approaches to explore how indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions give rise to multispecies ethics and the kind of ideologies and activities that 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, sustainability, climate crises, and technological change to understand how human and more-than-human actors nurture alternative futures.

The course will particularly interest 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, the environment, multi-species justice, media, public health directives, gender relations, global trade practices and value chains, 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

Course Format

The Format of this course will be structured in 2 sections.

Section 1: Course Engagement

Live Zoom seminar: Introduction to the Course. We will discuss the overall scope and objectives of the course; as well as expectations and assessments (such as seminar presentations). We will discuss keywords and definitions related to the course material.

Two-hour pre-recorded seminars appearing twice weekly on Echo365 (link will be available through Wattle). These pre-recorded seminars will cover the chief issues driving environmental and social conflicts, and policy and practice issues in Asia and the Pacific. 

Furthermore, we will have three live sessions.

a.     First live session. The session will be divided into two parts, each part will discuss the guest pre-recorded lectures of that week with prompt questions for discussion.

b.     Second live session. The session will be divided into two parts, each part will discuss the guest pre-recorded lectures of that week with prompt questions for discussion.

c.     Third live session. The session will be divided into two parts: the first part will discuss the guest pre-recorded lecture of that week with prompt questions for discussion, while the second part will discuss the forthcoming intensive sessions and questions/concerns/clarifications about the final assignment.

In the lead-up to the intensive component, students will have approximately 10 hours of pre-recorded lectures and 5-6 hours of live discussion sessions.

Section 2: Intensive Component

Intensive online live lectures, tutorials, and class presentations. During these two days, we will wrap up the course by covering topics such as conflict, land governance, resource conflict, mining, mastery, and climate change, among others. This component will include tutorials, discussions in groups, and class presentations by students, to help with their main essay. 

Indicative Assessment

  1. Reflective essay (1500 words) (30) [LO 1,2]
  2. Class presentation (10) [LO 1,3]
  3. Class participation (10) [LO 1,3]
  4. Final essay (3000 words) (50) [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.

Prescribed Texts

Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015.

Mathur, Nayanika. Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2021.

Yusoff, Kathryn. A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018.

Chao, Sophie. In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2022.

Chakrabarty, Professor Dipesh. The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. Chicago?; London: University of Chicago Press, 2021.

Kirksey, Eben 2015. Emergent Ecologies Durham: Duke 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

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Unit value:
6 units

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6.00 0.12500
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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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
6372 01 Jul 2025 18 Jul 2025 18 Jul 2025 30 Sep 2025 In Person N/A

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