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News from NIAS


Sher E Khoda, PhD Student, University of Jyväskylä

Proposed research Title: Delivering Microfinance in Bangladesh: The capacity building of third sector organizations and poverty reduction

I am a third year PhD student at the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland. My research is primarily focusing on the rising debate of microfinance operation towards poverty reduction. This research is following qualitative case study method to collect empirical data using in-depth interview of microcredit clients and the credit officials.


Lea Lybecker, MA student, Lund University

Lea Lybecker is a master’s student at Lund University (Department of Human Geography). She has spent the last 10 months in Myanmar working for the Asia Foundation on a research project on subnational conflict, aid and development, while simultaneously doing fieldwork for her master’s thesis. The thesis examines a single development intervention; an ADB financed road improvement project through contested areas in Kayin state, and explores ways in which this project might interact with local and national conflict dynamics. 

Emilija Zabiliute to receive The Ester Boserup Thesis Prize

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 14:00 to 16:30

We are happy to announce that The Ester Boserup Thesis Prize will be awarded to Emilija Zabiliūtė for her PhD dissertation Living with Others: Subjectivity, Relatedness and Health among Urban Poor in Delhi.

The assessment committee praised the thesis saying ’it excels in presenting a rich ethnography and in the sensitivity and empathy with which the everyday lives of the poor are analysed and portrayed. The study draws on a long-term fieldwork among urban poor, informal biomedical practitioners, and at a governmental health clinic, run under a developmental programme in the poor urban area. This innovative inquiry underscores how healing, care and developmental interventions are interlinked with everyday relations in the families and community. The study rethinks precarity among poor embedded in political economies, and shows how vulnerabilities among the poor are relational. By considering the diversity of medical care available to the poor, the study also shows how their access to health is less a question of lack, and more of quality, coherence and navigation of complex healthcare ecologies.

In connection with the ceremony Emilija Zabiliūtė will give a public lecture on 9 June 2017 at 14.00 in Festauditoriet, Bülowsvej 17, 1870 Frederiksberg C.
Timothy MitchellColumbia University, New York, receiving the The Ester Boserup Prize 2017 will also give a lecture entitled "Economentality: How Capitalism Captured the Future".

The Ester Boserup Thesis Prize is awarded by the Copenhagen Centre for Development Research (CCDR).
To read more click here


Bryndís Ólafsdóttir, PhD student, University of Iceland

Network relations and internationalization of smaller Nordic firms exporting to the Japanese market
I am a second-year Ph.D. student at the School of Business, University of Iceland. My research interests are internationalization and entry-mode research, network relations and the role of trade intermediaries, specifically in relation to Icelandic, Danish and Swedish small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) exporting to the Japanese market. This is a qualitative research with in-depth interviews with managers and trade agents. The theoretical basis of the research is predominately from the Uppsala Internationalization process model.

Saki Kudo, MA student, University of Tampere

The Influence of Firms on Female Lifecycle decisions
The labor force participation of women has increased in many industrial countries. Female lifestyle choices appear to be more flexible than they were earlier. Yet certain cross-national differences remain. My Master’s thesis addressed how the decisions of firms regarding family leave influence the decision-making process of women. A game theoretic model and a laboratory experiment allowed me to explain the effective policy to support female lifecycle decisions.

Michael Mærsk-Møller Hansson workplace student at NIAS

I am a Master's student in Anthropology from the University of Copenhagen.
I am 
currently writing my Master's thesis with the tentative title 'Staying pleasurably, staying well - staying Kachin'. In this thesis I explore popular notions of how well-being and the good life is conceptualized among young Kachin from the northernmost state of Myanmar, Kachin State. I argue that dominant conceptions of well-being among these youth revolve around collectivist notions of Kachin ethno-nationalism. Thus, the principles of the Kachin nationalist movement and the somewhat utopian idea of an autonomous Kachin nation led by Kachin people influence both how people perceive and pursue a better future. I write the thesis based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork in the end of 2016 in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.

Michael will be at NIAS until August.

SUPRA Nordic Scholarship for MA and PhD students Fall 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

SUPRA Nordic Scholarship for MA and PhD students Fall 2017

If you are working on a MA or PhD thesis during Fall 2017 and need some inspiration, literature or simply just time to write on your thesis, then NIAS has something to offer: the Nordic Scholarship!

The Nordic Scholarship covers inexpensive travel to Copenhagen, two weeks board and accommodation plus a working place at NIAS! A perfect chance to concentrate on your thesis, have inspirational talks with our researchers or collect material in Northern Europe's most comprehensive Asian studies library.

More information about SUPRA students' experiences at NIAS and practical information as well as application form.

NB: SUPRA scholarships are primarily for students from NNC member institutions.

Deadline for application: 1 June 2017

For more information, please contact

Gendered Globalization - Sino-Nordic Policies and Research

Gender equality matters in China and the Nordic countries. In a Policy Brief on Sino-Nordic policy solutions to gendered globalization written for the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy, Cai Yiping, Executive Committee member of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) and Dr Cecilia Milwertz, senior researcher at NIAS, point to opportunities for China and the Nordic countries to address gender inequalities internationally. They also suggest that joint Sino-Nordic research is needed in order to more fully understand newly emerging gender issues in interconnected global processes. 


Noora Hakulinen, MA student, University of Turku

China’s human trafficking court cases: An analysis on the human trafficking judgements in China between 2006-2016 and the impact the National Plan of Action on Combatting Human trafficking
I analyze court judgements made to human trafficking cases between 2006-2016 in five different provinces where trafficking crimes are considered to be prominent. During these ten years, China implemented its first National Plan of Action on Combatting Trafficking of Women and Children (NPA) and is currently implementing a second one, which will be effective until 2020. I am analyzing the impact of these action plans by comparing the judgements that are done between this time period. Through this analysis I am also portraying the overall human trafficking situation in China in the past ten years, where it has succeeded in its anti-trafficking efforts and what are the challenges ahead.


Kanamik Kani Khan, Mphil student, University of Bergen

Relationship between Renewable Energy and Socio-economic Development: A Study in Patuakhali District
Solar energy use has been creating positive impact on socio-economic changes in rural areas of Bangladesh. The households who use solar energy achieve comparatively more socio-economic and environmental benefits than the non-users of solar energy. The research attempts to identify the limitations that hinder the accessibility of renewable energies in Bangladesh. Solar energy has been becoming cheaper day by day but surprisingly there are still many villagers do not use it.

Financial reason could merely affect this since it has become cheaper so the question remains whether any psychological or other reason exist that does not encourage villagers to use solar energy.


Serena De Marchi, PhD candidate, Stockholm University

Political prison literature of China: analyzing the authors' different re-constructions of the prisonscape.
My research seeks to investigate the articulations of the prisonscape in the writings of selected Chinese authors. The point of departure is the study of the evolution of Chinese prisons and the Chinese penal system, that will provide the historical framework; while in the analysis of the literature, I rely on existing studies on the aesthetics of political prison camp writings (William & Wu, 2004), as well as on trauma studies. The idea is to build a very comprehensive definition of the "prisonscape" that will allow me to analyze and compare the works of different writers, both from mainland China and exiled dissidents. The main research questions is: how can a physical place associated with pain, fear and death eventually become a literary space of survival, witnessing and (in some cases) dissidence?

Guri Strand Karlsen, MA student, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The role and development of the multi-religious Kataragama sacred area 
My thesis is focused on understanding why certain religious places in Sri Lanka are recognized as more sacred than others. This will be done by comparing the multi-religious Kataragama shrine and temple with similar shrines in Kotabowa and Kandy, and by looking into the development of the place over time. In order to do this I pay special attention to the changes after the Civil war of 2009, when considering both the ethnic and religious boundaries. By using theory on the concept of place from a cultural geography perspective I intend to investigate the different claims to this holy area and how this interacts with its heritage. This is a complex issue as the Kataragama sacred area is a site of pilgrimage for not only the majority religion Buddhism but also by Hindus, Muslims and Christians, as well as the indigenous Vedda during the annual festival celebrating the deity Kataragama’s marriage.

Asia in Focus is looking for a new student assistant

Thursday, June 15, 2017
The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies’ journal Asia in Focus is looking for a new volunteer student assistant!
Are you interested in scientific writing and academic publishing? Asia in Focus needs a student assistant from August 2017 to support the editorial team.
About us:
Asia in Focus is published by a young, motivated and international team of editors from a variety of backgrounds, all with an interest in Asia. We all work on a voluntary basis, and that means we are in this because we care about it. You will be part of the team as a volunteer, participating in all meetings, supporting the entire work cycle of the bi-annual publication. You will work closely together with the managing editor.
About You:
A structured person with an eye for detail, who can keep a grand overview of the process and status of each issue, and reliably solve administrative tasks, including:
• Email communication with editors and authors
• Webpage management (familiarity with WordPress required)
• Support with final layout (familiarity with InDesign required)
• Take and distribute minutes from editorial meetings
• Assist with funding applications
• Maintain and update the catalogue of internal and external reviewers in Excel
How to apply:
Send a motivated email and your CV to or visit our webpage
Deadline for application: 15 June 2017
We look forward to hearing from you.


Andrea Menéndez Arboleya, Master student, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Myanmar Mobile Citizenships in a Context of International Labor Migration in Peri-Urban Bangkok

In a world with steady increasing rates of worldwide mobility, cross-country migrants experience losses of their democratic rights while living abroad. This happens because full democratic rights linked to the current notion of citizenship only apply to certain individuals (citizens) within a specific geographical area limited by political boundaries (nation-states). The main motivation behind my study is to challenge these limitations by exploring alternative, in particular non-Western bottom-down, notions of citizenship that can contribute to improve levels of democracy in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.


Lisa Lindkvist Zhang, Master student, University of Copenhagen

Himalayan Interludes: Chinese Kinetics in Indo-Tibetan Lattices

Lisa Lindkvist Zhang is an MA student in Chinese Studies at University of Copenhagen. She also holds an MA degree in Chinese Philosophy from Fudan University and a BA in Philosophy from University College London. Lisa's research interests revolve around transregional interactions with focus on translation practices, the writing of intellectual histories, and the articulation of 'Otherness'. Her current MA thesis, tentatively titled “Himalayan Interludes: Chinese Kinetics in Indo-Tibetan Lattices”, seeks to shed light on the politics of Chinese interactions in the Indian Himalaya between the 1940s to the 1960s.