Dr Mandy Sadan

Research Interests

My research demonstrates a long-term commitment to working with and for the communities residing in Myanmar’s borderlands, especially in the Kachin region. But this is not a narrow focus as I use this learning to reflect upon much wider issues and concerns, extending the range of collaborations and conversations in ways that are meaningful to local problem-solving in multiple settings. My most recent collaborative project involvements funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) include:

1) 2018 – 2020 ‘Sustainable Lives in Scarred Landscapes: Heritage, Environment, and Violence in the China-Myanmar Jade Trade’. (PI) British Academy GCRF Sustainable Development Grant: Heritage, Dignity & Violence - £299,995.

My collaborating partners are Professor Dan Smyer Yu, Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology and the National Centre for Borderlands Ethnic Studies in Southwest China at Yunnan University and the research team lead by Danseng Lawn and Naw Tun Lamai at the Kachinland Research Centre, Myitkyina, Myanmar.

2) 2017 – 2021  ‘Drugs and (Dis)order: Building Sustainable Peacetime Economies in the Aftermath of War’. ESRC GCRF Research Capacity Growth Call Major Grant - £7,231,221.

This large collaborative project is lead by Professor Jonathan Goodhand, Professor in Conflict and Development Studies at SOAS, with multiple partners in the UK but also in Myanmar (the Kachinland Research Center and Shan Herald Agency for News), Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Research Centre on Drugs and Security, Universidad de los Andes) and Afghanistan (Organization for Sustainable Development and Research and the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit). I am Co-Investigator on the project working alongside Myanmar Country Working Group lead Dr Patrick Meehan and local partners led by Danseng Lawn and Sai All.

3) 2018-2020  ‘Deepening Democracy in Extremely Politically Fragile Countries: Networking for Historical, Cultural and Arts Research on Parliaments and People’. AHRC GCRF Network Plus Grant - £1,999,999

As Co-Investigator and member of the Executive Committee, I supported the project focused on activities in Myanmar and Ethiopia. It is led by Professor Emma Crewe, Professor of Social Anthropology at SOAS, working with EMReF (Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation), the Forum for Social Studies, and Setaweet (both in Ethiopia).


Research Disciplines:

  • History

  • Visual and material anthropology

  • Development

  • Endangered languages and cultures

  • Research methods

Research Keywords:

  • Illicit economies, gender, drugs, youth, oral history, cultural history, social history, environmental history, emotions, borderlands, business and enterprise, conflict and peacebuilding,ethnonationalism


  • South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia

Research Cluster:



Contact Information


  • 2013  Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowships Monographs Series, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 526pp. Translated into Burmese. Winner of the 2015 inaugural EuroSEAS Nikkei Asian Review Prize for Best Book in the Humanities
  • 2008 A Guide to Colonial Sources on Burma: Ethnic & Minority Histories of Burma in the India Office Records, British Library, Bangkok: Orchid Press, 580pp





  • 2007 Social Dynamics in the Highlands of Southeast Asia: Reconsidering Political Systems of Highland Burma by E. R. Leach, Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 3 Southeast Asia, 18, Leiden: Brill, 323pp.; Co-editor: François Robinne (IRSEA-CNRS)



  • 2018 ‘New Area Studies in the Borderlands of Asia’ in Necessary Travel: New Area Studies and Canada in Comparative Perspective, Susan Hodgett and Patrick James (eds), Lanham MD: Lexington Books
  • 2018 ‘Contested Meanings of Postcolonialism and Independence in Burma’ in The Postcolonial Moment in South and South East Asia, Gyan Prakash, Michael Laffan, and Nikhil Menon (eds), London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, pp.49-66
  • 2016 ‘Meeting Educational Needs in Marginal Areas of the State: Reflections on Research in Myanmar’ in Scholarship and Engagement in Mainland Southeast Asia, Oscar Salemink (ed.), Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books, pp.221-242
  • 2014  ‘Remembering Fieldwork Histories’ in Memories and Moments of Fieldwork: South Asian Experience, Chaudhuri S. K. & Chaudhuri S. S. (eds.), New Delhi: Sage Publications Pvt Ltd, pp.88-105



  • 2016 'Borderlands.' In Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Myanmar, Holliday, Ian and Simpson, Adam and Farrelly, Nicholas, (eds.), Routledge. Co-Author: Patrick Meehan
  • 2013 ‘The Urban Dumsa’ in Burma chapter of Figures of Southeast Asian Modernity, Johan Lindquist, Erik Harms & Joshua Barker (eds.) Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2013; collaborative chapter edited by Nicholas Farrelly, for which my contribution as sole author was pp.218-220
  • 2007 ‘Reconsidering the dynamics of ethnicity through Foucault’s concept of ‘Spaces of Dispersion’’ in Social Dynamics in the Highlands of Southeast Asia: Reconsidering Political Systems of Highland Burma by E. R. Leach, François Robinne and Mandy Sadan, pp.299-308; Co-Author: François Robinne (IRSEA-CNRS)



  • 2016  ‘Can Democracy Cure Myanmar’s Ethnic Conflicts?’ in Current History: A Journal of Contemporary World Affairs, Vol. 115, Issue 782, pp. 214-232
  • 2014 'Reflections on building an inclusive higher education system in Myanmar' in British Academy Review, Summer (24). pp. 68-71.
  • 2014 'Sojourn Symposium Review of 'Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma' by Mandy Sadan (OUP 2013)' in Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 29 (2). pp. 467-482. Response to Review Articles by Nicholas Farrelly and Maran La Raw                                                                                                          
  • 2014 ‘The Historical Visual Economy of Photography in Burma’ in Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde/Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, 170 (2-3), pp. 281-312.
  • 2013 ‘Ethnic armies and ethnic conflict in Burma – Reconsidering the history of colonial militarization in the Kachin region of Burma during the Second World War’ in South East Asia Research, Volume 21, No.4, 2013), pp.601-626



  • War and Peace in the Borderlands of Myanmar: The Kachin Ceasefire 1994-2011. http://kachinceasefire.weebly.com/
  • Being & Becoming Kachin: Fieldwork Notes, Photographs and Translations – an extension of my monograph, which makes available many of the research resources used in writing the text, many of which are very rare and otherwise difficult to access (mandysadan.weebly.com)
  • The Tibet Album – British Photography in Central Tibet 1920-50 (http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk) Directors: Professor Elizabeth Edwards, Dr Clare Harris, T. Richard Blurton; Contribution: helped to develop project research methodology and web output