Southeast Asian Waters Series: Expanding transboundary water governance: A mobile political ecology of sand and shifting resource-based livelihoods in Southeast Asia

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre


Dr Vanessa Lamb

Dr Vanessa Lamb

Senior Lecturer in Geography, University of Melbourne


Prof John Sidel

Prof John Sidel

Sir Patrick Gillam Chair in International and Comparative Politics, LSE SEAC Associate

As part of the SEAC Southeast Asian Waters Seminar series Dr. Vanessa Lamb (Senior Lecturer, School of Geography, University of Melbourne) spoke on sand extraction and its consequences in Southeast Asia. The talk was chaired by Prof John Sidel.


Talk Abstract

An unprecedented rise in sand extraction from rivers and coasts for use in construction and urban development is impacting resource-based livelihoods, prompting scholars to declare “a looming tragedy of the sand commons”. Within a global context, Southeast Asia is emerging as one sand mining hotspot. Yet, while demand and extraction is set to intensify, the governance of sand and sediment flows has been characterised as a serious challenge in the region, particularly in the ways that this “unseen transboundary commons” is being depleted and sand mining is impacting local resource users and livelihoods. In this talk, I will outline a proposal to ‘expand’ the transboundary governance of water via a mobile political ecology framing that emphasises not only the importance of riverine sand and sediments (and the impacts of their extraction) but the range of shifting livelihoods and resource users in the region and their potential role in transboundary debates. I do so with consideration of the ‘dual crises’ of climate change and the covid-19 pandemic, where challenges for water governance, and a need to expand participation, have become more pronounced.


A video recording of this research seminar is available to watch here.


Speaker and Chair Biographies

Dr. Vanessa Lamb (@DrVanessa_Lamb) is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne.

Prof. John Sidel is the Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Professor Sidel received his BA and MA from Yale University and his PhD from Cornell University. He is the author of Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines (1999), Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century: Colonial Legacies, Postcolonial Trajectories (2000), Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia (2006), The Islamist Threat in Southeast Asia: A Reassessment (2007), Thinking and Working Politically in Development: Coalitions for Change in the Philippines (2020, with Jaime Faustino) and a forthcoming book Republicanism, Communism, Islam: Cosmopolitan Origins of Revolution in Southeast Asia.

Banner image by Daniel Straub on Unsplash

This event will be hosted online


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