Roundtable –  Cross-sectoral Approaches of Social Movements beyond Southeast Asia – An Inter-regional Conversation

In this roundtable, our aim is to explore the implementation of a cross-sectoral dialogue in social movements research across regions and to reflect upon specificities and commonalities. Are there significant regional differences in the ways in which academic researchers, practitioners, activists, and engaged citizens collaborate when it comes to doing collective ethnography, conducting interviews or surveys, collecting grievances, accessing archives, and involving populations through participatory programs? What possible biases condition differences in approach whether one is doing engaged research with social movements in Southeast Asia or in other regions, such as Africa, the Middle East, Europe?

We would like to examine the role played by institutional conditions, socio-political contexts and mobilization cultures in legitimizing or disqualifying engagement in research, framing inter-sectoral porosities and relations, defining the boundaries of fields of research, and influencing the very qualification of what constitutes engagement (for example, in an authoritarian context where conducting research is in itself a political act). Finally, we ask ourselves whether the regional scale is adequate to reflect on these questions or whether it is more fruitful to start from transversal registers, such as the nature of the struggles, the type of political regime in which they are inscribed, or the identity—gender, class, race—of the people who are involved in it.

Chairperson and moderator:

Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo, Humboldt University Berlin

Dr. Rosa Cordillera A. Castillo is a socio-cultural anthropologist and engaged scholar. She is currently a postdoc at the Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Visiting Lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. She works on the anthropology of imagination and memory, peace and conflict studies, resistance and solidarity, affect and emotions, research ethics, decoloniality, and engaged research. Rosa co-created and co-leads the Affect and Colonialism Web Lab, winner of the Ideas Competition for International Research Marketing Prize of the German Research Foundation. She is founder and curator of the Philippine Studies Series Berlin platform, editorial board member of Alon: Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies, co-convenor of the Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, and associate investigator of the Berlin University Alliance-funded project CoLibri-Conceptual Collaboration: Living Borderless Research Interaction. She received her PhD with summa cum laude distinction from the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to moving to Berlin, Rosa was an Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines as well as
an NGO worker and activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. She has been part of numerous engaged research and initiatives for the past two decades.

You can find more information about me here:


Sardar Saadi has a PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Toronto. He recently completed his SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at Wageningen University. His PhD research examines urban dynamics of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan, and his postdoctoral studies look into the politics of youth in the Kurdish movement. Dr. Saadi is currently the director of the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Rojava. He has published in different journals and online publications, and he is actively engaged with grassroots solidarity movements in Canada and around the world. He has been interviewed by different mainstream and independent media organizations in different languages. He is also the host and producer of a podcast called The Kurdish Edition.

  • Phong A Huynh, GRET

Phong A Huynh is a rural development and commons-based-approach expert, having graduated with a Masters in Social Change and Development from the University of Newcastle. He has been with GRET since 2012 in various capacities including deputy Project manager of the Bamboo Projects (2012-2021), SE Asia Geographical Focal Point for the Commons program (2019-now) and technical advisor for integrating commons-based approach to the Wetland Improvement and Sanitation Enhancement Project in Luang Prabang (WISE LPB). His experience in implementing, developing and adapting commons-based approach (CBA) tools originates back in 2012 in facilitating the development of bamboo value chains through the CBA’s principles. As part of GRET’s emphasis on supporting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to become facilitators of communities’ active participation in the shared governance of their resources, Phong has supported the development of a Bamboo and NTFP Development Association (BNDA), the first of its kind in Houaphanh Province, home of Lao PDR’s communism or Pathet Lao. These experiences have afforded GRET and him the opportunity to adapt and expand the Commons-Based approach’s various toolsets to appropriately apply in different projects working on different sectors (such as in Humanity & Inclusion-led UXO project and a GRET-led Wetland Improvement and Sanitation Enhancement Project in Luang Prabang). Phong Huynh is a Vietnamese-American based in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

Stéphane Tonnelat is a CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research) researcher at the LAVUE (Laboratoire sur l’Architecture, la Ville, l’Urbanisme et l’Environnement) research center,  based at Paris-Nanterre University. He also teaches ethnography at the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in the master program on environmental studies. He conducts ethnographic research on various types of urban public spaces and environmental mobilizations in Paris and New York. His main fields of investigation are urban interstices (wastelands, empty lots), parks and gardens, subways and ferries, and lately, suburban publicc space. His current work focuses on grassroots movements aimed at protecting agricultural land on the fringes of the Paris region from urbanization. His publications include International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train (Columbia University Press, 2017 and 2021), co‑authored with William Kornblum (CUNY Graduate Center); and L’Art en chantier. Stefan Shankland et l’Atelier/TRANS305 (Archibooks, 2016), on the role of art on a construction site in Ivry-sur-Seine, in the inner suburbs of Paris.

Birgit Müller (Cambridge Ph.D. 1986) has studied power relations and ideologies in post-socialist labor in Eastern Europe and in social and environmental movements in Europe and Latin America. She is currently conducting multi-site research on agricultural policy design at the global and national levels and on farmers’ practices at the local level in Nicaragua and Canada. Her books include: Disenchantment with Market Economics. East Germans and Western Capitalism, Berghahn 2007, (ed.); The Loss of Harmony. The Politics of Policy Making in Multilateral Organizations, Pluto 2013.