Building Relationships in Vietnam from a Distance: A Discussion with Jeffrey Neilson


For the next five weeks, SSEAC Stories will be hosting a mini-series of podcasts on research partnerships in Southeast Asia. In the context of COVID-19, it has become clear that working in partnership is a critical part of being able to do research in Southeast Asia. Through interviews with University of Sydney academics working across all disciplines and at all stages in their careers, this mini-series will highlight strategies that our members have used to build and sustain partnerships with collaborators in Southeast Asia.

In the third episode in this mini-series, Dr Thushara Dibley interviewed Associate Professor Jeffrey Neilson about a new collaborative project investigating sustainable agricultural production in Vietnam. He talks about the challenges of building relationships with partners you’ve never met before, beyond language barriers and closed international borders, and how this has had unexpectedly positive consequences for the project.

Jeff's research focuses on economic geography, environmental governance and rural development in Southeast Asia, with specific area expertise on Indonesia. Jeff’s research interests are diverse and include issues of food security and food sovereignty, the global coffee industry, the global cocoa-chocolate industry, agrarian reform movements, sustainable livelihoods and alternative measures of well-being, agroecology, and environmental governance. He is currently leading a five-year research project examining the livelihood impacts of farmer engagement in value chain interventions across Indonesia. This research is contributing to cutting-edge international debates on the development effects of sustainability and certification programs, Geographical Indications and direct trade initiatives.

Jeff is a fluent Indonesian language speaker and has conducted extended periods of ethnographic field research in the Toraja region of Sulawesi, where he pursues research in cultural change, landscape history, the ceremonial economy and oral poetic traditions.

You can follow Jeffrey on Twitter @JeffreySydney.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website:

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