You are here

News from NIAS

NIAS Director Duncan McCargo has two new publications

Duncan McCargo’s book Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand is just out from Cornell University Press. Based on a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship that funded him to conduct a year’s fieldwork in Bangkok, it explores the role of judges and examines a number of politically-related court cases that have helped shape Thailand’s recent politics. The book draws upon hundreds of hours of political ethnography conducted in Thai courts and police stations, as well as dozens of interviews. McCargo argues that legalistic ‘solutions’ to Thailand’s complex political problems have made matters worse, raising questions about the value of legalism more generally.




Duncan McCargo’s latest article, in the journal Conflict, Security & Development, co-authored with Colombo-based scholar Dishani Senaratne, explores parallels between the politics of memorialization in southern Thailand and Sri Lanka. The authors argue that the way government and anti-government combatants are memorialized – or not – speaks volumes about the real nature of peace in post-conflict societies.

The article draws upon on a fieldtrip McCargo made to the North of Sri Lanka in the summer of 2017 (see, as part of an ESRC-funded collaborative project on illiberal peacebuilding in Asia (  

Reference: Duncan McCargo and Dishani Senaratne, ‘Victor’s Memory: Sri Lanka’s post-war memoryscape in comparative perspective’, Conflict, Security & Development, 20, 1, 2020: 97–113.


Sonja Irene Åman, PhD, University of Oslo
My name is Sonja Åman and I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo. My background is in political ecology and I am currently part of a research group called ‘Whales of Power’. My thesis focuses on human-whale relationships and the practice and policies of indigenous subsistence whaling and whale-watching. My aim is to trace how local indigenous knowledge interacts with the national and global policies and public narratives in the case of whaling among the Makah tribe in the US, and the Maori-led whale-watching in New Zealand’s South Island.


Ihntaek Hwang, PhD, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Tampere University
Ihntaek Hwang is doctoral researcher at Tampere Peace Research Institute (TAPRI), Tampere University. He used to work for the Republic of Korea Air Force as political education officer. He is currently researching on how we imagine national security. His case is the conscientious objectors to military service in South Korea, who have long been criminalised by both the government and the public for jeopardising national security. He is interested in travelling between the micro and the macro through body politic, aesthetics and arts, and the subliminal/subterritorial.



Taeho Kim, MA, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Turku
My name is Taeho Kim from South Korea. I grew up in Thailand and studied International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I am currently undergoing a Master's Degree Programme in East Asian Studies at the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Turku, Finland. My research topic will be looking at South Korean perception of the Nordic Welfare State Model. Despite South Korea's rapid industrialization and ascension in stature as a global economic powerhouse, there also seem to be growing demands and increasing challenges calling for better social security, social stability and quality of life. In light of these issues, the Nordic Model is frequently brought up as a trendy and attractive alternative to addressing social issues in South Korea. As someone who has experienced these cultures, I thought it would be interesting to explore the South Korean perception of the Nordic Model.


Latest publications from Andreas Forsby

How do Denmark and other European countries navigate and position themselves in the burgeoning strategic rivalry between China and the United States? NIAS researcher Andreas B. Forsby has provided a Danish perspective to these questions in a newly released report from the ETNC network of European research institutions. In his chapter, entitled “America First: Denmark’s Strategic Navigation in the Era of US-China Rivalry”, he demonstrates how Denmark – being far more dependent on the US than China – is now struggling with how to maintain its Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China in the face of growing pressure from the Trump administration.
Read the chapter here

Forsby has also written a Danish language op-ed (kronik) in Jyllandsposten on the same topic.
Read it here.

Duncan McCargo comments in TIME magazine on situation in Thailand

Director of NIAS, Duncan McCargo, is interviewed this week in TIME Magazine to comment on the current political situation in Thailand, in which the leader of Thailand's Future Forward Party has amassed a "Korean boy band" type of following. To read the article, please follow this link.



Elina Nilsson, PhD, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University
My background is in cultural anthropology and gender studies. In my research, I explore the experiences of transnational commercial surrogacy, through interviews with women who have acted as surrogate mothers in Thailand. The study focuses on the interconnection between the global and the intimate through the lived experiences of those whose labour involves intimacy, embodiment and emotions. I have spent in total 5 months in Thailand (2018-2019) interviewing former surrogate mothers. Recurring themes in the women’s narratives are mobility, motherhood and labour as well as issues concerning money and religious/local moral values. At the moment I am writing a chapter on (im)mobility, borders and restrictions.


Guro Vestrheim Skeie, MA, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen
My master project is an urban ethnographic study of morality among LGBT+ subjects in Yangon, Myanmar.  The background for the project was to investigate how Myanmar sexual minorities engaging with multiple discourses of gender, identify and govern themselves within the gendered aspects of different ideologies. This project takes identity, love and desire among LGBT+ subjects as point of departure, to gain insight into the moral and cultural norms of the dominating ideologies in transitioning Myanmar



Rebekka Åsnes Sagild, PhD Student, University of Oslo

Rebekka Åsnes Sagild is a PhD-student in Modern China studies at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo. She has a background in China studies and political science, and has spent several years in the People's Republic of China, for studies, work, and field research. Currently she is writing the first English language monograph on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conferences (CPPCC). A key point of her research is to describe the role of the CPPCC in the Chinese political system, and its functions and practice, in particular at local levels in China.


Julia Wong, MPhil Student, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Julia Wong is a master student at the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Tromsø. Her background is from political science, with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Stavanger.

The main topic for the master thesis is the Hong Kong protests from 2019, questioning whether an assumed generational gap in identity might explain the level of active participation. More specifically, the perception of national or civic identity among individual ‘baby boomers’ and ‘millennials’. In addition to identity, the focus will be on the general view on the society and political situation. Data for the thesis is based on interviews and observation from fieldwork conducted in Hong Kong during the summer of 2019. Furthermore, the research will be drawn to more general theories regarding the role of identity in conflicts and human security.


Kronik om Huawei og Færøerne af Andreas Bøje Forsby

Andreas bøje Forsby har en kronik i Politiken i dag:

”Huawei: Færøerne som storpolitisk kampplads. Et kritisk tilbageblik på den forløbnes uges afsløringer om mødet mellem Færøernes lagmand og Kinas ambassadør”.

For at læse artiklen, klik venligst på det vedhæftede.

Sino-Nordic report OA

Sino–Nordic relations matter

For all the Nordic countries, China has become an important trading partner. It also plays a central role in the management of the international order on which the Nordic states are highly dependent. At the same time, the Nordic countries risk being drawn into the unfolding great power struggle between the United States and China.

For China, the Nordic region is not a major economic partner nor is it closely affiliated with China’s Belt & Road Initiative. Even so, Nordic expertise, technology and innovation skills are in high demand in China, especially with respect to green growth and sustainable development solutions that are critical to China’s overall modernization objectives.

Against this backdrop of existing interconnectivities and mutual interests, there is a need to take a closer look at Sino–Nordic relations in order to identify the opportunities as well as constraints for advancing the relationship further.

This pioneering study investigates the relationship, exploring the range of interconnectivities and collaborative practices between China and its Nordic partners. It maps the scope and recent history of current relations across various dimensions, not only from an overall comparative perspective but also from the perspectives of the individual countries.

The study also focuses on five issue areas – business and innovation, sustain­able development, research and education, welfare solutions and people-to-people relations – where opportunities exist for enhanced cooperation. At the same time, it identifies the main obstacles and challenges to Sino–Nordic relations, including differences of political values and the burgeoning US–China great power rivalry. Furthermore, by examining the rather limited measures taken by the Nordic countries to adopt a joint approach to China, it discusses the extent to which such a joint approach might augment bilateral relations that individual Nordic countries have with Beijing as well as wider EU–China relations.

Finally, the study ends with a set of thought-provoking recommendations for how to deal with current opportunities and constraints in order to expand and deepen the Sino–Nordic relationship.

To read the full report, please click the attachement.



Julia Behrens, PhD, Humboldt University

Julia Behrens is a PhD student at the seminar for Southeast Asian Studies at Humboldt University Berlin and visiting researcher at the University for Social Science and Humanities in Hanoi. Her dissertation is about narratives on environment and nature and how their use is interlinked with (re-)production of actor- networks of power in environmental NGOs in Vietnam. Having finished the first phase of field work, she is now in the process of locating case studies for the second phase.