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Neil Loughlin, PhD student, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Cambodia’s Winning Coalition: State-Party, Coercion and Capital.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and the regime he dominates has outlived any other modern Cambodian political organization despite UN intervention, the introduction of electoral democracy and massive changes in Cambodia’s political economy. This longevity is a puzzle, which this thesis attempts to shed light on by focusing on linked processes of state formation and elite coalition building since 1979, with a particular focus on the coercive institutions of state.

The thesis explores the extent to which the regime today is organized through the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) at the level of its most senior state officials, including military and police officials, subordinated to Hun Sen. This forms their electoral vehicle and the organizational forum for the provision of exclusive private goods to themselves and their supporters. Underpinning the system and protecting it from challengers is the use and threat of use of coercion to counter the electoral and other threats the system generates. It further incorporates a number of wealthy and influential tycoons who, having been created under it, benefit from it through access to state contracts and natural resources in a mutually beneficial economic relationship in which access to these benefits is paid back in terms of financial support to the leadership, business deals and contributions to the state offices and institutions they oversee. These three interlinked “pillars” of state-party; state coercion and capital form the winning coalition essential for leadership survival in Cambodia.

In undertaking this thesis, I aim to contribute to literatures on authoritarian durability, coalitional politics, the role of democratic institutions in authoritarian regimes, the role of violence and coercive institutions in authoritarian contexts and work on political economy and political ecology.


Pär Nyrén, MA student, Stockholm University.

The Emergence of China’s Overseas Military and Security Industry: An Exploration of Economic and Political Causes.

China’s role in the world is being redefined rapidly. Having risen from relative geopolitical and economic insignificance to becoming a diplomatic and industrial powerhouse, China is continuously exploring new areas of engagement with the world. As of recently, this includes privatized military and security provision in countries around the world.

Many governmental and intergovernmental agencies, private enterprises and humanitarian aid organizations rely on private security contractors for protection from militants and attacks by

organized criminal networks. Such private military and security companies (PMSCs) originate in many different countries. China-based PMSCs are latecomers to the industry, with only one existing prior to 2010; today there are at least more than 20 Chinese overseas PMSCs with operations in many dozens of countries around the world and have representative offices in “over 160 countries”. One Chinese company has individually carried out operations in over 30 countries. 

While there had barely existed any prior, what led to the rapid creation and expansion of Chinese overseas PMSCs during 2010-2017?

This research project will primarily build on and contribute to three fields of study. The first and most obvious is to the study of private actors in international security. My ambition is to push forward theory-building on the causes on security privatization that will be applicable in many other contexts. Moreover, the thesis will make empirical contributions to the study of China’s foreign policy as well as the study of China’s state intervention in the private sector. In addition to the academic community, the findings will be of interest for foreign policy practitioners and others interested in new manifestations of China’s rise.


Hyojin Pak, PhD candidate, Leiden University. 
Reshuffling Roles and Responsibilities: the social history of waste work in South Korea.
This dissertation explores the social history of waste work in South Korea from the 1960s to the 1990s. I examine the development of Korean waste management through analysing difference actors at varying levels of waste management, especially focusing on those categorised as informal waste workers. Drawing on the bodies of scholarship on waste that have been developed in the overlapping domains of anthropology, human geography, and environmental history, I analyse the organisation of the formal and informal waste management throughout these periods but also the ways in which those systems relate to certain concepts of waste and excess and how that relates to social order in South Korea.
By taking material and metaphorical waste and waste work(ers) at the centre of controversy and heterogeneity, my study examines how the objects and its management are not just symbolic reflections of social, moral, and political values but they actually do constitute such arguments themselves. By doing to, it seeks to bring together discourses on waste whether they build on theories on purity, deviance, surplus and excess, the capitalist mode of production and consumption.
Elżbieta Świstak, MA Student, Stockholm University.
Chinese language education in Europe in the light of the Confucius Institute.
My current research project deals with Chinese language education in Europe.
More specifically, it is directly connected with the spread of the Confucius Institute which is designed for students who are interested in learning Chinese language, culture, history or art. In particular, the project is presently concentrating on the history of Chinese language education in Europe till nowadays, the background of the Confucius Institute in terms of its system, offers and prospects and the statistical future that this education might bring. My interest in this topic developed because as a part of my study I am doing an internship in one of the branches of the Confucius Institute placed in Poland. This is a research area of some importance, as it has the potential to educate us not only about the Confucius Institute but also about the future impact that Chinese language is likely to achieve in the upcoming years.


Kimberli Mäkäräinen, MA Student, University of Helsinki
Translating Legislation in Multilingual Legal Systems: the Case of Lesser-Resourced Languages

The objective of my research is to ascertain how translation and terminology challenges are met when translating national legislation into languages of lesser resources in multilingual legal systems around the world and to determine if any of the working solutions from the other legal systems could be used to improve the process in Finland for the Sámi languages.


Ana Stanicevic, PhD Candidate, University of Iceland
Nordic Small Press in 21st Century

Ana Stanicevic is a PhD student of Cultural Studies at the University of Iceland, where she also teaches Icelandic as a second language. She is a master of Nordic studies and had taught Norwegian at the University of Belgrade before. Ana is also a translator and her Serbian translation of the book „Mánasteinn“ by the renowned Icelandic writer Sjón was published last year in Serbia.

Ana's PhD thesis is on Nordic small press in the 21st century (2000-2020). The focus is on non-profit, independent publishing houses that primarily issue literary material and take a clear stand in their avant-garde tendencies. The goal is to provide insight into contemporary Nordic literature and describe the phenomenon through an analysis of its literary, historical and cultural context. The origins of the small press can be traced back to the European avant-garde movements of the early 20th century. The aim is to analyse the publishing practices of groups behind the small press today, which programmatically offer an alternative to the mainstream book market and large publishing houses.


Christmas and New Year's holidays opening hours

NIAS will be closed for Christmas and New Year's holidays from 23 December 2017 until 2 January 2018. 


Annemieke van den Dool, PhD candidate, Amsterdam Law School, University of Amsterdam.

From crisis to change: China’s legislative responses to public health incidents.

Van den Dool specializes in Chinese law. In her dissertation, she examines why and how public health crises in China, such as SARS and the melamine milk powder crisis, lead to change in law. 



Yashar Mahmud, PhD candidate, Stockholm Business School.

Organizing Refugees.

Mahmud focuses on how a refugee organizes herself/himself and, at the same time, is being organized by others - organizations, people, technologies and laws. He tries to show the multiplicity and complexities involved in these processes. He uses Actor-Network Theory as an approach for empirical exploration and analysis.



New Student Assistants at NIAS



We are happy to welcome two new student assistants at NIAS.

Lars Hessellund Jeppesen (L) and Magnus Rosenquist (R),  both are students of China studies at the University of Copenhagen.
At NIAS they'll cover adminstrative tasks, NIAS SUPRA Programme and NIAS Linc.

New guest PhD at NIAS

Xiaoxu Liu is a PhD candidate at the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Helsinki. 
After getting her BA and MA in education from Northeast Normal University in China, she started her doctoral study at the University of Helsinki in 2015. She also studied in National Pingtung University in Taiwan for half a year as an exchange student.

Her research interests include comparative education, multicultural education and Chinese minority education.  Her latest article ‘The Meanings of Multicultural Education: Comparing Perspectives from China and Finland’ will be published in Dervin and Du’s book series with Palgrave MacMillan in 2017. She is working on another article 'Students and Teachers' Attitude towards Preferential Policies for Minorities in China: A case study of National Institute of Education’. Xiaoxu is also a member of research projects Helsinki University Chinese Studies and Criticality, Interculturality and Bias in Education.

More information please see University of Helsinki Research Portal
Contact: E-mail: [email protected]




Pia Eskelinen, PhD Candidate, Master of Administrative Sciences, M.Sc. (Civil Law), the Faculty of Social Sciences and Faculty of Law, University of Turku.

Urbanization and its effects on rural women’s land rights in the PRC
Pia's research covers rural women in the rural areas of China and the problems they face due to rapid and aggressive land policy.



Ruvimbo Natalie Mavhiki-Hodzi, PhD candidate, Asian Studies, University of Helsinki

Zero Conditionality: The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism and China's Foreign Aid
Ruvimbo is focusing on China’s increasing cooperation with African authoritarian regimes and its effect on democratisation. She has done extensive research on Democracy in divided societies, Democracy promotion, Aid, African politics and Gender and development. Prior to her engagement in Finland, Ruvimbo worked with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) coordinating election Monitoring and Observation in the run-up and during Zimbabwe’s 2013 Presidential election.

Call for papers: Asia in Focus Issue 6

Asia in Focus is a peer-reviewed journal published online twice a year by NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. Asia in Focus provides Master students and Ph.D. students affiliated to a European institution a widely accessible and transnational forum to publish their findings. The focal point of the journal is the modern Asian societies viewed from the standpoints of social science and humanities. The geographical focus is the Asian countries from Central Asia to Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand. We aim at a high academic level in a concise, focused and readable form, and publish both academic essays and academic articles.

We are seeking full papers (approx. 3500 words) for the next issue of Asia in Focus. The papers which may take an academic article or academic essay format, should pertain to contemporary issues in modern Asia and be rooted in the social sciences or humanities.

We are also accepting book reviews of no more than 1000 words. Choose a title of your own choice that fits with the focus of the journal, or choose from the NIAS Press titles here:

The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2018 and accepted papers will be published spring/summer 2018.

See the attached documents for more information and visit for more detailed instructions about submission

Please contact us by  writing to [email protected].


Tullia Jack PhD Candidate, Sociology, Lund University 
Cleanliness and consumption: changing everyday practices in Mysore
While visiting NIAS, Tullia is exploring empirical material from a recent field trip to Mysore, India. This data set consists of interviews, photos from inside supermarkets and notes from trips to laundromats and washing locales. Tullia is hoping to use this material to; understand how cleanliness norms are changing, and consider changing norms’ potential impacts on water and energy consumption.
Otso Harju, PhD candidate, Gender studies, The University of Helsinki
Political Daughterhood – Feminist middle-class daughters and intra-family
political conflicts in Delhi, India
My article Feminist conflicts and resistance in Indian family WhatsApp groups documents gendered conflicts in the microcosmos of family WhatsApp groups. In urban
middle-to-upper class India, families often have their own chat groups on the popular messaging application.
A tool for creating kinship, extended networks of relatives are often included. Crystallizing (and sometimes
intensifying) familial issues seen in the outside world, topics discussed in the chat groups can range from
gossip and dinner invitations to religion, money and “appropriate” behavior. Taken together, these
discussions uphold social norms and construct truths around what is desirable in terms of family, gender,
class and caste. Individual group members often do not have a real choice in participating, as leaving the
conversation would be shameful, too transgressive, or simply mean risking being out of touch with one’s
Among young Delhi feminists, family chat groups are a recurring topic of criticism, moral headaches,
and dark humour. The groups give rise to new and interesting forms of political conflict and everyday
feminist resistance. Analysing co-creating forms of identity (family vs. feminist), my article looks at how
radical young women perceive and engage with the chat groups they themselves are part of. Based on
in-depth interviews, it studies how feminists play along with, disapprove of, fight, or ignore the sexism,
classism and casteism expressed by family members.
The outlined article is a part his doctoral work titled “Political Daughterhood – Feminist middle-class daughters and intra-family political conflicts in Delhi, India”. Before joining the PhD programme, Otso has lived some three years in metropolitan India and done his master’s in Asian studies from Lund University, Sweden.