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The Australian National University

Dr Sverre Molland

PhD, Anthropology
Senior Lecturer in Anthropology (Development Studies)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 1382

Areas of expertise

  • Anthropology Of Development 160101
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Migration 160303
  • Social Policy 160512
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Social Theory 160806
  • Gender Specific Studies 169901
  • Studies Of Asian Society 169903

Research interests

Development, Gender, Mobility, Human Trafficking, Agency and Practice, Governmentality, Biolegitimacy, Comparative interventions, Humanitarianism, Laos, Thailand, Mekong region


Sverre Molland is an anthropologist. Initially trained in social anthropology at University of Oslo and Asian Studies in Australia, he worked for the United Nations Development Programme in the Mekong region (based in Laos) before returning to the social sciences. After completing his PhD and a postdoctorate in Anthropology at Macquarie University, Dr. Molland was in 2012 appointed lecturer in Anthropology (Development Studies) at the Australian National University, where he coordinates the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development. 

Dr. Molland has more than ten years research and programme experience on human trafficking, development and mobility in the Mekong region. In his PhD fieldwork he carried out research on migration and sex commerce along the Lao-Thai border as well as various development organisations which implement anti-trafficking projects. His current research examines how “safe migration” has become an important modality of intervention amongst several aid programmes that work amongst migrant labourers in the Mekong region. Hence, a central analytic concern is to explore contemporaneous attempts to monitor and mould supply chains of labour in the context of development aid and how such efforts manifest themselves in different ways ranging from human trafficking, fair trade to safe migration. Dr. Molland’s interest in development and human trafficking has culminated in an additional research project which examines the nexus of interventionist modalities and inter-agency coordination by using military engagement in humanitarian disaster response as an empirical backdrop. 

As such, Dr. Molland’s overarching research agenda is to contribute to the advancement of the study the securitisation of aid and mobility in a comparative perspective. Its theoretical contribution is to illuminate how relations and structures of power permeate through development and humanitarian practices as well as how such efforts are mobilised, enacted and legitimated.

Dr. Molland is the author of The Perfect Business? Anti-Trafficking and the Sex Trade along the Mekong (University of Hawaii Press).

Available student projects

I am keen to supervise PhD, MA and Honours theses on the broad topic of development and mobility. I have specific interests in human trafficking and forced migration, securitisation of aid as well as contemporary discourses of humanitarian exception. Although my geographical focus is on mainland Southeast Asia I maintain a keen interest in other geographical areas for comparative purposes.


Current/past supervision topics:

  • Australia and policy responses to refugees
  • Cross-border humanitarian aid in Myanmar
  • Education policy  & nation building in Rwanda
  • Humanitarianism and development in East Timor
  • Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and UNRWA
  • Human trafficking and policy responses in a comparative perspective
  • The post-MDG agenda
  • Forced Migration and Vigilantism in Malaysia
  • Development and mental health
  • Emerging Industrial Elites in Pakistan




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:  18 December 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers