Engaged Scholarship in the Asia Pacific

Panel 2: Wisdom of the Landscapes 1.0

Ecological degradation from resource extraction has the strongest impact on Indigenous communities and others who live right alongside the resources, and thus the extraction. Even when communities are not fully displaced from the land, they can still lose access through restrictive enclosures and also from the physical removal of forest and the destruction of waterways. This panel will discuss community-led initiatives and collaborative research projects that attempt to foreground the ideas and concerns of Indigenous groups living within and around project areas, with respect for their knowledge of the landscape, the situation, as well as possible solutions. Drawing examples from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Guam, panelists focus on both the policy implications of their work and the impacts of their activities on local communities.

Panelists: Courtney Work (National Cheng-chi University, Taiwan); Micah Fisher (University of Hawaii-Manoa), Else Demeulenaere (University of Guam)

Moderator: Guy Charlton (University of New England, Australia)

Wednesday September 23, 7:00 PM (PDT) / Thurs September 24, 10:00 AM (TWN)



Panelists and Moderators

Courtney Work is Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnology at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan. Doing active research in Cambodia since 2005, Work completed her MA (2007 Brandeis), PhD (2014 Cornell), and Post-Doc (2017 Institute for Social Studies and Chiang Mai University), using data based on ethnographic fieldwork in the country. The research focus shifts through time, and incorporates elements from the anthropology of religion, development, and the environment; the history of Southeast Asian political formations; and contemporary political economy and climate change. Her new book, Tides of Empire: Religion, Development, and Environment in Cambodia explores Cambodia’s development frontier through the lens of migrant families, land spirits, loggers, and soldiers all creating a new village out of the forest. She has published extensively on ecological issues in Cambodia, which are available here.


Micah Fisher is a faculty member at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in the Matsunaga Institute for Conflict Resolution and the program for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance. He also holds a joint position in the Forestry Department at Hasanuddin University in Indonesia, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of Forest and Society , a journal with an area focus of under-represented regions in Southeast Asia. His research interests center on sustainability dimensions of landscapes and watersheds, and more specifically revolve around rural smallholder dilemmas and policies to empower land rights and livelihoods. Co-production of knowledge initiatives draw from long term partnerships with the Kajang community of Sulawesi to help secure formal state recognition of Indigenous land.  

Else Demeulenaere is the Associate Director for Natural Resources, at the University of Guam’s Center for Island Sustainability, where she leads a team of biologists to conduct research on forest and watershed restoration, endangered species protection and recovery, and green roofs. Else is an avid advocate for sustainable living and the protection of Guam’s biocultural diversity. Else is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD in a joint program with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Guam. Her research focuses on conservation genetics of Serianthes in Micronesia, traditional ecological knowledge of endemic plant species, social activism, and aims to find policies benefiting the protection of Guam’s ecosystems and its people.

Else Demeulenaere was a recipient of the 2019 Botany Advocacy Leadership Award. This yearly award is organized by the Environmental and Public Policy Committees of the Botany Societies, BSA and ASPT, and aims to support local efforts that contribute policy on issues relevant to plant sciences. You can read about her work on Guåhan Traditional Ecological Knowledge here.

Guy C. Charlton has a broad range of legal experience. He is currently an Associate Professor in Law
at the University of New England located in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia where he
assisted in the establishment of the UNE First People First Peoples Rights and Law Centre. He has
lectured law in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan and published law articles in 5 different
jurisdictions. He was awarded his PhD thesis at the University of Auckland Faculty of Law for a
thesis entitled “Constitutional Conflicts and Aboriginal Rights: Hunting, Fishing, Gathering Rights in
Canada, New Zealand and the United States.” This thesis argues that the present approach courts
have taken toward the determination of the source, content and scope of usufructuary rights has
been affected by historical and contemporary disputes concerning the nature and understanding of
sovereignty, the nature and level of governmental authority and different philosophical approaches
to political organization and individual rights. Guy has his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin and
an MA in International Relations from the University of Toronto.