Workshop on Contested Resource Frontiers in Mainland Southeast Asia


About the Workshop

Mainland Southeast Asia, in particular its uplands and mountainous regions, is rich in natural resources which has made it a hotspot for rapid and large-scale development. Throughout the developmental history of the region, its reserve of valuable minerals and forest products that are in demand for trade and commerce — from gold and gemstones to rosewood and rare spices — have been the cause of different conflicts and stones of contention between competing colonial and regional powers. The contestation over natural resources continue to shape present-day economic and political dynamics. The region is now peppered with major infrastructure and resource extraction projects. A substantial share of the region‘s recent foreign direct investments is directed towards contested extractive resources and their related infrastructures. China has become a key source of these investments, with Thailand and Vietnam also wielding considerable economic and political influence in the region. While mining and logging remain contested fields of resource extraction, new transboundary regimes of extraction, commodification and territorialisation over other natural resources — such as water reserves and agricultural produce — are emerging.

This workshop discusses recent trends and issues of resource extraction and commodification in developing Mainland Southeast Asia, the stakeholders involved, and their effect on local economies and everyday life. The various country case studies analyse the sociopolitical dimensions of production, distribution and consumption of resources such as minerals, water, timber, and cash crops, and how governments and local communities in the region perceive and react to the opportunities and risks of the transnational hunger for these resources. By using and critically discussing the politically laden term of resource frontiers, the presentations explore current tendencies of increasing enclosure and exploitation, with a focus on social and environmental impacts, local contestations, and counter-movements.

Download the Workshop programme here. (Updated 2 March 2020)

For registration, please click on this link.

Attendance at this event is free of charge but registration is required by 2 March 2020. As seats are limited, please register early. Admission to the Workshop can be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS.

For any queries, please feel free to email:

Best wishes,

Dr Oliver Tappe
Workshop Convener


Mar 06 2020


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 1 & 2