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Christina Geisse

The Asian Studies Program was incredible because most professors were undertaking their own research, passionate about their subject of study, and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with students. It felt fresh and profound at the same time. Inspiring! 

Christina Geisse
Kim Sluchansky

I was able to delve deep and focus on the areas of Asian Studies that truly interested me, and therefore gained a much more thorough and developed understanding of my fields of interest, which are applicable to my current career path. Also, the professors are extremely helpful and want their students to succeed. They were very supportive both while I was at UH and after I graduated.

Dr. Vanessa Koh presents POLITICAL GRAINS OF SAND: Making a Commodity from Cambodia to Singapore

POLITICAL GRAINS OF SAND: Making a Commodity from Cambodia to Singapore, Vanessa Koh

Facing scarce land and resources, Singapore has “reclaimed” land by leveling its hills, dredging its waters, and importing millions of cubic meters of sand from its neighbors. Moving from Cambodian waters to Singapore’s new coast, this talk charts the making of a sandy resource frontier. I examine the social and ecological consequences of sand dredging in Cambodia, before turning towards the bureaucratic and economic process of importing sand into Singapore. The resulting dispossession of villagers where sand is sourced reveals the differences in the ways in which sand is valued; whilst dredgers and politicians saw the potential for large profit in sand, the villagers did not immediately recognize sand’s importance in their livelihoods. As sand moves across the sea and into Singapore, I contend that the commodification of sand not only depends on the obfuscation of responsibility across national lines, but also on the separation of sand as a commodity and that of land as national territory.

Wed, March 27, 5-6 pm
Tokioka Room (Moore 319)
Reception to follow

Vanessa Koh is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University’s Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities. Her current book project is an ethnography of land reclamation in Singapore that enquires into how land is terraformed and subsequently contested. Vanessa’s research examines the relationship between land, nature, sovereignty, and the creation of urban environments. Trained as an environmental anthropologist, she completed a combined Ph.D. in the Department of Anthropology and the School of the Environment, and a graduate certificate in the Environmental Humanities, from Yale University in 2023. 

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