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Burma, biofuels and public anthropology

19 May, 2008

Seeing as we have been talking about Burma and the cyclone, biofuels, and the role of anthropologists as public intellectuals, here is a short news piece from the ABC by Monique Skidmore, anthropologist at the ANU, which combines all three.

An Australian anthropologist says the push to grow biofuels has worsened the plight of Burmese cyclone victims.

Professor Monique Skidmore from the Australian National University says The Burmese junta this year has ordered farmers to replace rice with a bitter biodiesel plant called jatropha.

She says the rice supplies are shrinking because of the biodiesel campaign.

“It’s quite incredible to see this arid region plant being cultivated all over the country now, even in the delta area,” she says.

“So people have had to rip up paddy in some places to plant hundreds and hundreds of acres of jatropha and this is a plant that doesn’t grow well, and people do not have the production and distribution facilities to do anything with the product once they get it, and they don’t get much. And of course they’re not being able to cultivate rice in the meantime.

“So it’s an incredibly ridiculous path to embark upon.”

Here’s another example of Skidmore’s public engagement, an audio piece on the psychology of resistance in Burma.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 May, 2008 2:57 pm

    Hey, thanks so much for bringing this up, Jovan. (I’ve always been a fan of Monique’s since she was my TA when I was an undergraduate and she a grad student at McGill!) But you need to fix the first link — it should be

  2. 20 May, 2008 9:27 am

    Thanks Lisa. Didn’t know that you and Monique knew each other. And thanks for alerting me to the broken link. It’s fixed now.

  3. 21 May, 2008 7:38 pm

    well she probably doesn’t remember me as I was just a peon undergrad at the time.

  4. 22 May, 2008 10:14 am

    I used to think that about my teachers and later on was surprised how well they remembered me. And I’m sure you would’ve stood out even back then. ūüėČ

  5. 5 January, 2010 8:53 pm


    Really good information, I have bookmarked your site, perhaps you would like to take a look at as we have some information you may find usefull in the members area – Keep up the Good Work!



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