Prof Sango Mahanty


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Current student projects

Primary supervisor:

Ratchada Arpornsilp, Grassroots environmental movements in an authoritarian state: resource conflicts in Thailand’s Special Economic Zones

Hanh Nguyen, Community forestry in Vietnam


I am a human geographer studying the politics of social and environmental change. My recent ARC Future Fellowship explored these related themes in a region of rapid social and environmental change along the Cambodia-Vietnam border. My current work in this region examines how communities and civil society are responding to dramatic processes of nature-society transformation or “rupture”. I have collaborated with civil society and government in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, and currently lead the Resources, Environment and Development Program at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. I also teach postgraduate courses on social impact assessment and pollution/waste.


Career highlights 

Program Director, Resources Environment & Development Group (2018-2020); ARC Future Fellow June 2014 - June 2018; Coordinator, Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (2007-2014); Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning 2013; College Teaching Innovation Award 2012; Convenor, Deakin University’s Bachelor of Park Management and research partnership with Parks Victoria 2001-2003; Analyst at the Center for People and Forests from 2005-2007.

Research interests

  • Political ecology
  • Agrarian change
  • Development studies
  • Mainland Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia)

Researcher's projects


Current and past research collaborations include:

1.Rupture: nature-society transformation in mainland Southeast Asia (2018-2021) This research examines how transformative landscape and infrastructure developments in mainland Southeast Asia are catalysing new civil society and state responses. Its findings will inform development planning and more inclusive social and environmental policy. The voices of communities affected by environmental change will be amplified, creating opportunities for dialogue. Ground-breaking insights on state-society dynamics will also enhance Australia’s security and regional leadership role.

2. ARC Future Fellowship (2014-2018) Frontiers of change: resources, access and agency on the Cambodia-Vietnam borderland. This interdisciplinary study examines how local actors negotiate transnational networks and markets on the Cambodia-Vietnam borderland. It will provide critical evidence and theoretical insights on how local environmental, social and political processes intersect wider transitions in this strategically significant region.

3. The Political Ecology of Forest Carbon - mainland Southeast Asia's new commodity frontier? (2012-2015) Supported by an ARC Discovery Grant, this study aims to understand how forest users in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos respond to the complex local, national and regional dimensions of the emerging market for forest carbon.

4. Safeguarding local equity as global values of ecosystem services rise (2010-2012) Supported by a UK National Environmental Research Council Grant, the project aims to develop a framework to examine equity in the context of ecosystem services. It applies this framework in a series of case studies to explore how local-level equity is affected by changes in the global value of ecosystem services. The project involves several institutions and is coordinated by the University of Southampton.

5. Crafting Sustainability: addressing water pollution from Vietnam's craft villages (2009-2012). Supported by an AusAID Australian Development Research Award, the project aims to understand the drivers of pollution from craft villages in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam.





Expertise Areas

  • Natural Resource Management
  • Environment Policy
  • Studies of Asian Society


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Network (past 5 years)

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