Department of Anthropology

Honorary Staff - Paul Cohen

Contact Details

Title: Associate Professor    
Position: Honorary Associate anthropology-staff-paulcohen


Consultation Hours: TBD
Location: W6A 602
Telephone: +61-2-9850-8021
Fax: +61-2-9850-9391
Postal Address: Department of Anthropology
Faculty of Arts
Macquarie University
NSW 2109


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I have been teaching at Macquarie since 1970. My undergraduate Honours degree in Anthropology was from Sydney University and my Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. I have had a long-standing in the region of Southeast Asia. I carried out field work for my PhD in the lowland of northern Thailand and continued research there on a range of agrarian issues (e.g. irrigation, farmers associations, land reform), the relationship between Buddhism and local-level politics and development, and primary health care. I have also done research on opium cultivation and trade among the highland peoples of this area. Since 1995 my research has concentrated on the lowland (Tai Lue) and highland (Akha) of Muang Sing in northwestern Laos on anthropological issues such as ethnicity, Buddhism and opium.

I have edited two books on health issues: The Political Economy of Primary Health Care in Southeast Asia (1989) and Health and Development in Southeast Asia (1995).

For relaxation I enjoy dancing, golf and tennis.

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Research Interests

anthropology-staff-paulcohen pic

  • Medical Anthropology;
  • Drug Traffic in Southeast Asia;
  • Peasant economy in Thailand, Laos and South China
  • Buddhism and Development

Selected Recent publications

  1. (with R.Pearson) 'Communal Irrigation, State and Capital in the Chiang Mai Valley (Northern Thailand): Twentieth Century 'Transformations'. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 29(1), March 1998.
  2. 'Lue Ethnicity in National Context: A Comparative Study of Tai Lue Communities in Thailand and Laos' Journal of the Siam Society,86(1&2), 1998.
  3. 'Lue Across Borders: Pilgrimage and the Muang Sing Reliquary in Northern Laos'. In Where China Meets Southeast Asia: Social and Cultural Change in a Border Region ed. Grant Evans, Chris Hutton and Kuah Khun-Eng, Singapore, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
  4. 'Resettlement, Opium and Labour Dependence: Akha-Tai Relations in Northern Laos', Development and Change 31, 2000.