Jason Morris-Jung

Current affiliation:
Visiting Resarch Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Jason is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Instiute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. 

Jason Morris-Jung has been living, working, and researching in Vietnam and Southeast Asia for nearly two decades.  He is currently a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore, where he is researching the politics of natural resource extraction, contentious politics, and the cultural politics of nature.  With ISEAS colleague Zhao Hong, he is also coordinating a research project on the opportunities and challenges of Chinese resource extraction in Southeast Asia.  Morris-Jung has worked professionally in the fields of poverty reduction, rural development, biodiversity conservation, and community-based forestry management in Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.  

Doctoral research

NGO mediation in consent-building with local communities displaced by conservation

Negotiating consent with local communities has become increasingly important to legitimating the acquisition of land and natural resources for the purposes of biodiversity conservation. In Southeast Asia, international NGOs are assuming key roles in mediating these processes, especially within the framework of conservation projects. But the complex nature of negotiating consent and the paradoxical casting of NGOs (as both representatives of civil society and partners of the State) make the role of NGOs highly problematic. In my research, I will argue that international NGOs are both creating possibilities for and complicating the application of "informed consent" as a new policy model for negotiating socially equitable conservation agreements.

Jason recently completed his doctorate in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management (ESPM) at the University of California, Berkeley.  While his dissertation research originally began as an inquiry into environmental movements in Vietnam-a country where he has spent the better part of his last ten years-it quickly became swept up in the fervour of a national controversy over government plans to mine bauxite ore in the uplands of Central Vietnam on an unprecedented scale.  This research brought him to examine how constructions of nature, history and geography are being reworked into new socio-cultural formations to meet the ongoing challenges of state formation and globalization, while also creating new possibilities for citizen engagement and political activism in Vietnam.  Prior to his doctoral studies, he completed a Bachelor's degree in English at the University of British Columbia, taught English as a Second Language in Spain, completed another Bachelor's and then a Master's degree in Social Work at McGill University, and volunteered and worked professionally in Vietnam and Southeast Asia in the fields of environmental conservation and rural development.  Through these experiences, he has had the great opportunity to spend a lot of time with some of the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations in the world; they have played a vital role in shaping his own approaches to social justice, civic participation and environmental sustainability. He has also published on the problematics of resettlement schemes in protected area conservation, linkages between forest conservation and poverty reduction, and rural development possibilities for non-timber forest products. 

Experience as a Trudeau Scholar

Being a part of the Trudeau Foundation has re-inspired my hopes for becoming an academic that is not only deeply engaged in the world of ideas but also in the world of action.  As someone who has been living outside of Canada for many years, the Foundation has helped me to reimagine Canada not so much as the ready-made nation I was born into, but as one that is forever in the process of creation.  As such, it has helped me to view my relationship to Canada not just as a system of entitlements made available to me by virtue of my citizenship, but as an opportunity to create new models and possibilities for society based on an appreciation of and respect for justice, inclusion, diversity and nature.  Furthermore, the Foundation's Public Interaction Program generated invaluable occasions for me to be introduced to many talented and inspiring people at all levels of their career.  The Foundation's financial support greatly facilitated my pursuit of doctoral studies, enriched my dissertation field work, contributed to my career development and I appreciated the opportunity it afforded me to visit many new places in and people of Canada.  As a former Trudeau Scholar, I thank the Foundation for investing in me.  I seek now to repay that investment through my own commitments to making a better world for ourselves, our children and our children's children.