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Professor Mandy Sadan

Dr Mandy Sadan

Contact details

Email: Mandy dot Sadan at warwick dot ac dot uk
Tel.: +44 (0) 24765 23290
Room: R3.14, Ramphal Building

Office hours: I am on research leave during 2022-2025. Please email if you wish to make an appointment or enquire about my availability.


BA (Hons) Modern History (University of Oxford); MA Art History & Archaeology (SOAS University of London); Ph.D. History (SOAS University of London); PGCert ODE (Technology Enhanced Learning) (Open University); PGCE Post-Compulsory Education (Oxford Brookes University)

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Academic Background

I joined GSD in August 2020. Before that, I was a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford School of Global & Area Studies (OSGA) at the University of Oxford and was also affiliated with St Antony's College. I worked at SOAS University of London from 2008-2018, where I was based in the Department of History. I taught at all levels and supervised graduate dissertations and Ph. D researchers interested in the history, anthropology, art history, politics, and development of southeast Asia.

My doctoral research built upon time spent living in Myanmar in the mid-1990s, working with local researchers from the Kachin State in the north of the country. I learned how important culture and heritage are to community well-being and development, as well as how politically complex these issues can be. A website detailing materials underpinning this long-term work is available here. My book exploring these issues in detail, Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma (OUP & British Academy, 2013), was awarded the inaugural EuroSEAS Nikkei Asian Review Prize for Best Book in the Humanities in 2015.

My work in Burma/Myanmar has been ongoing for more than 25 years and I continue to be actively involved in research, teaching, and training in the Kachin region. I have wide interdisciplinary interests but am particularly interested in life story and oral history research methods, and demonstrating the importance of the humanities for sustainable development. I am also interested in communication between the humanities and the natural sciences to strengthen our understanding of our lived environment.


I am on research leave during 2022-25.

Ph.D. Supervision

    Please note that, due to current supervisory commitments, I am not able to consider requests for graduate research (Ph.D.) supervision commencing in 2024/25. Please contact the GSD Graduate Office for further advice, if you have not done so already.


    During 2022-25 I will be engaged full-time on a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship. You can find out more about my project hereLink opens in a new window. It focuses on the broad social and cultural history of the obesogenic food environment in the UK, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between war, technology, and flavour change in the emergence of ultra-processed foods. In addition to my ongoing research in borderland regions of Asia, I also have interests in the Black Country region of the West Midlands during the 19th and 20th Centuries. I explore how the emergence of the Black Country as an imagined identity correlates with the space-place dynamics of other marginalized regions globally, particularly those impacted by histories of resource extraction.

    Many of my research projects in recent years have been funded by various strands of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Mainly working with teams and in partnership, I have explored issues such as rare earth elements mining in northern Myanmar, the illicit trans-border commodity trade in jadeite between Myanmar and China, and the social and cultural impact of drug production and drug-related harms in communities seeking to escape from cycles of political violence in Myanmar. Primary examples of these projects are detailed below:

    2021 - 2022 "Rare Earths in the Just Transition: Connecting Global Inequalities in REE Commodity Chains"Link opens in a new window. (PI) British Academy fund Just Transitions within Sectors & Industries Globally - £94,318.00 (COVJT210014)

    With Professor Dan Smyer Yu, Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology at Yunnan University and Gobal Faculty Member, University of Cologne; Dan Seng Lawn, Kachinland Research Centre, Myitkyina, Myanmar; Research Fellows Dr. David Brown and Dr. Ronghui (Kevin) Zhou.

    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.

    With 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, Dan Seng Lawn, Kachinland Research Centre, Myitkyina, Myanmar.

    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.

    PI Professor Jonathan Goodhand, Professor in Conflict and Development Studies at SOAS, with multiple partners including the Kachinland Research Center and Shan Herald Agency for News in Myanmar, the 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).

    2017-2018 The Frontier Areas Administration of Burma 1922-47: Autonomy and Development at the Margins of Empire in a Time of Global Change: British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship - £114,721.00

    Individual research award to examine the administrative history of the Frontier Areas Administration in Burma.

    Recent publications

    Authored books

    • 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

    Edited books

    Co-edited books

    • 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)

    Book chapters

    • 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

    Collaborative/co-authored book chapters

    • 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)

    Journal articles

    Web and digital publications

    • War and Peace in the Borderlands of Myanmar: The Kachin Ceasefire 1994-2011.
    • 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 (
    • The Tibet Album – British Photography in Central Tibet 1920-50 ( Directors: Professor Elizabeth Edwards, Professor Clare Harris, T. Richard Blurton; Contribution: helped to develop project research methodology and web output