Mountains by the sea in Vietnam

LSE SEAC Research Fund

I am delighted to support the establishment of this Centre to enable LSE to consolidate and strengthen its education and research on the Southeast Asia region among students, researchers and faculty members.

Professor Saw Swee Hock

Please note: LSE SEAC is currently not accepting SEAC Research Fund applications.

Second round (2018 - 2019)

In January 2018, funding was made available to support new or on-going social science research on Southeast Asia by SEAC Associates and LSE staff at Assistant Professor/Assistant Professorial Research Fellow level (salary band 7) or above.

Funded research project


The Palm Oil Concession Moratorium and its Spatial Impact on Deforestation  

This project aims to analyse the effectiveness of the 2011 Moratorium on Palm Oil, Timber and Logging concessions, issued by then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in compliance to the REDD+ agreement reached by Norway and Indonesia in May 2010. The Moratorium sought to halt the conversion of primary forest and peatlands into palm oil, timber and logging estates, thus slowing down the intensive deforestation processes which characterised the Indonesian land-use sector in the previous decades.

This project is attempting to answer the following questions using a unique spatially defined dataset on land-use, forest fires and oil-palm production, combined with econometric methods for impact analysis:

  • Has the Moratorium been effective in slowing down deforestation within its declared perimeter? Have there been differences in the rates of deforestation observed among the three different land-use designations?
  • What are the industry-specific drivers of deforestation in the agricultural and land-use sector?
  • Is it possible to assess whether the presence of foreign investors, namely Multinational Enterprises, has intensified the deforestation process? Which characteristics of the Multinationals involved in the Indonesian agricultural sector play a major role in their propensity to clear forested land?
  • Is there a causal link between rural poverty and deforestation? Do Multinationals take advantage of relative deprivation in rural areas to perpetrate heavier deforestation practices?

Dr Ben Groom, Principal Investigator

Ben Groom is an Associate Professor of Environment and Development Economics in the LSE Department of Geography and Environment. 


Dr Charles Palmer, Principal Investigator

Charles Palmer is an Associate Professor of Environment and Development at the LSE Department of Geography and Environment. 


Lorenzo Sileci, Research Assistant

Lorenzo has recently completed his MSc Environmental Economics and Climate Change (Distinction) at LSE, with a thesis on palm oil-induced deforestation in Indonesia. 


First round (2016 - 2017)

In February 2016, six projects were awarded funding of £7,500 from the LSE SEAC Research Fund for research activities taking place in academic years 2015/16 and 2016/17. The recipient projects focus on a range of different topics and Southeast Asian countries, with principal investigators from different disciplines.

As part of the deliverables, LSE SEAC Research Fund recipients will present their findings at a dedicated public seminar series organised by LSE SEAC between January and March 2018.

Funded research projects


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Vietnam’s Position in the Global Textile and Apparel Industry: implications for regional investments, trade, and labour

Focusing on the case of Asian trans-national producers, this project will address the main investment and trade shifts that will take place locally and regionally as part of Vietnam's accession to the TPP and the implications of these shifts for Vietnam in regard to labour rights.

Principal investigator: Dr Shamel Azmeh, Visiting Fellow at the Middle East Centre, LSE.


From Alternative Development to Sustainable Development: a case study of Myanmar

The Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia has been a major opium-producing area in the world since WWII, making drug policy a significant issue in the region. This project aims to establish Sustainable Development as the key framework for drug policy reform in Myanmar above current policy recommendations that focus on the symptomatic issues surrounding problematic drug use.

Principal investigator: Dr John Collins, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Unit, United States Centre, LSE.


Explaining Shifts in U.S. Burma Policy: the role of foreign policy entrepreneurs

Myanmar’s democratic reforms have followed a prior major change in U.S. Burma policy, namely the Obama administration’s decision to re-engage the military regime in 2009. This project will examine the major shifts in US policy toward Myanmar and explain these as instances of successful foreign policy entrepreneurship. 

Principal investigatorDr Jürgen Haacke, SEAC Director and Associate Professor in International Relations at LSE.


Developing a General Equilibrium Model for Vietnam to Capture the Economic Impact of Social Protection Programmes

Vietnam’s national social protection strategy has been more comprehensive and effective than that of many countries in Southeast Asia. This project will develop a new social accounting matrix and a General Equilibrium Model to represent Vietnam’s economy and to offer a comparison point with Cambodia, where the social protection strategy struggles to materialise.

Principal investigator: Dr Stephanie Levy, Guest Lecturer at the Department of International Development, LSE.


Communal Violence, Mujahedin and Child Fighters: a history of the Ambon Conflict 1999-2003

The objective of this project is to analyse the causes and the dynamics of the Ambon conflict, an understudied communal conflict which saw large scale violence between Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. Part of the project will also focus on the not insignificant number of child fighters involved in the conflict.

Principal investigator: Dr Kirsten Schulze, SEAC Associate and Associate Professor in International History at LSE.


Property before People: real estate assets, inequalities and contestation of property rights in Southeast Asia

This project aims to understand inequalities associated with real estate asset accumulation, and people’s contestation of property rights in Southeast Asia, especially in Singapore and Vietnam. By examining the changing perception of these issues would provide insight into how housing inequalities are closely related to the broader structural issues of state legitimacy and social stability.

Principal investigator: Dr Hyun Bang Shin, SEAC Associate and Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at LSE.