Mike is currently a PhD Candidate at the School of Culture History and Language. His research asks how how agrarian economies and agrarian ecologies intersect with the politics of ethno-racial difference in mainland Southeast Asia.
His thesis focuses on the diverse communities of Mon-Khmer speakers who self-identify as Ta'ang (and are also known as Palaung, De'ang, and Dara'ang). Ta'ang peoples have played a central role in the domestication of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis); they dominate the tea industry in Myanmar, and are also associated with tea in China's Yunnan province. Mike asks how the long history of Ta'ang tea production intersects with current racialization processes in the agrarian economy of the Shan Plateau.
Prior to his time at ANU, Michael was a social science instructor at the Parami Institute in Yangon, Myanmar, where he taught a range of anthropology courses and led three undergraduate research teams on topics related to economic anthropology.
As a masters student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michael's research aimed to understand the material and ideological implications of the Lao-Soviet educational exchange program, for which he conducted three months of fieldwork in Vientiane, Laos.
For a detailed CV and list of publications, please see his personal website.