Associate Professor Sango Mahanty

ARC Future Fellow, Resources Environment & Development Group, Crawford School of Public Policy
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: +612 61258058

Areas of expertise

  • Human Geography 1604
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903
  • Natural Resource Management 050209
  • Environment Policy 160507

Research interests

  • Political ecology
  • Agrarian change
  • Development studies
  • Mainland Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia)


I am a human geographer working on the social and environmental dimensions of commodity networks, forests and agrarian change. My current ARC Future Fellowship explores these related themes in a region of rapid social and environmental change along the Cambodia-Vietnam border. I previously coordinated and taught into the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development, and now have a smaller teaching contribution to this program. I have held teaching, research and professional advisory roles in a range of organisations. For the last 9 years, I have worked in mainland Southeast Asia, but my PhD research focused on India and I have prior experience in the Pacific.

Career highlights

ARC Future Fellow June 2014 - June 2018; Coordinator, Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (2007-2014); Vice-Chancellor's Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning 2013; College Teaching Innovation Award 2012; Convenor, Deakin University's Bachelor of Park Management and research partnership with Parks Victoria 2001-2003; Analyst at the Center for People and Forests from 2005-2007.

Researcher's projects


Current and past research collaborations include:

1.Rupture: nature-society transformation in mainland Southeast Asia (2018-2021) This research examines how transformative landscape and infrastructure developments in mainland Southeast Asia are catalysing new civil society and state responses. Its findings will inform development planning and more inclusive social and environmental policy. The voices of communities affected by environmental change will be amplified, creating opportunities for dialogue. Ground-breaking insights on state-society dynamics will also enhance Australia’s security and regional leadership role.

2. ARC Future Fellowship (2014-2018) Frontiers of change: resources, access and agency on the Cambodia-Vietnam borderland. This interdisciplinary study examines how local actors negotiate transnational networks and markets on the Cambodia-Vietnam borderland. It will provide critical evidence and theoretical insights on how local environmental, social and political processes intersect wider transitions in this strategically significant region.

3. The Political Ecology of Forest Carbon - mainland Southeast Asia's new commodity frontier? (2012-2015) Supported by an ARC Discovery Grant, this study aims to understand how forest users in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos respond to the complex local, national and regional dimensions of the emerging market for forest carbon.

4. Safeguarding local equity as global values of ecosystem services rise (2010-2012) Supported by a UK National Environmental Research Council Grant, the project aims to develop a framework to examine equity in the context of ecosystem services. It applies this framework in a series of case studies to explore how local-level equity is affected by changes in the global value of ecosystem services. The project involves several institutions and is coordinated by the University of Southampton.

5. Crafting Sustainability: addressing water pollution from Vietnam's craft villages (2009-2012). Supported by an AusAID Australian Development Research Award, the project aims to understand the drivers of pollution from craft villages in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam.



Current student projects

Primary supervisor:

Ratchada Arpornsilp, Grassroots environmental movements in an authoritarian state: resource conflicts in Thailand’s Special Economic Zones

Hanh Nguyen, Community forestry in Vietnam


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  20 January 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers