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Updates, Resources and Reports
The Tea Leaf Center | Issue #23
February has been a difficult month at the Tea Leaf Center, as we watch the news coming out of Myanmar, worry about our friends and colleagues, and try to do what we can to help, while also continuing our work in Thailand.
 
In response to the coup in Myanmar, we have tried to share information about VPNs and other digital security measures to help combat against increasing internet shutdowns/blocking of social media sites, and censorship/targeting of civil society for posts made online. There have been some contentious discussions on social media about the role of external “experts” in responding to the current crisis, and we have tried to support local voices in this discussion by amplifying their words and not speaking for them. Toward that end, we have also opened our blog as a space for people to write about their perspectives and experiences, and have published two blog posts on this theme so far.
 
We are also trying to keep up with our work in Thailand, which has started to take off. The Tea Leaf Center will be working on a long-term project with Chiang Mai University, York University and the Stockholm Environment Institute, which Jon will be spending much of his time on. The project looks at knowledge infrastructures around climate resilience and informal urban settlements. Aileen and Pam are working on an evaluation of a project around safe migration from Myanmar to Thailand, as well as expanding our networks through stakeholder meetings in Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Send your coup stories or opinions to info@thetealeafcenter.org
Resources and Tools
After the coup in Myanmar, local researchers and activists have strengthened their calls for foreign "experts" to take a back seat to the expertise and experience of people actually from Myanmar. We strongly support this call. There are many posts, threads and articles on this topic, but to understand what is meant by 'decolonizing research' through a mix of theory and personal experience, we suggest this conference presentation by two researchers born in Myanmar and trained in Western academia: "Talking Back to white Researchers in Burma Studies." This is just one resource, and we encourage all foreign researchers working in/on Burma (including ourselves!) to do the work to learn and improve our practices.

One year on, COVID-19 continues to impact that way we conduct research, as well as the contexts we study. Below are a few global resources to help understand the impact COVID-19 has had on global research and inequality.

When COVID-19 started and researchers around the world had to change their methods, many people published guides and case studies about how to adapt research. A year later, researchers Helen Kara and Su-ming Khoo have released their edited three-book series, based on contributions from 90 researchers worldwide, with a more comprehensive look at Researching in the Age of COVID-19. The series contains three e-books, titled “Response and Reassessment”, “Care and Resilience” and “Ethics and Creativity”, bring together diverse experiences that move beyond the switch to online interviews to reflections on research methods that will be relevant far beyond the pandemic.

When a global pandemic occurs, it exacerbates a long existing problem of structural racism which affects the lives of migrants worldwide, especially in the first world countries. The paper published by the Lancet reveals gaps in health-care access and calls for policy interventions as a way to ensure human and labor rights.
If you or your organization would like to work together on a research project or would like more information on the trainings we offer, please reach out. We have a sliding scale of fees (which means smaller organizations pay less) and design all our trainings to specifically meet the needs of our partners. Here’s a reminder of the types of trainings we offer:
Civil Society Research Outputs

A series of podcast produced by Southeast Asia Globe and its partner Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Cambodia features many aspects of Cambodia’s future. Guest speakers were invited to discuss main problems that affect the country such as media and press freedom and democracy.
 
Another regional podcast series to check out comes from socialservice.sg, a website, podcast and newsletter about social service research, practices and policies in Singapore. As of writing, they have four episodes interviewing Singaporean researchers about their research on topics like youth and inequality. Their episode “On the researcher’s privileged position, community partnerships, data and research advocacy” looks especially interesting and relevant around the region.
 
The transmigration policy is viewed as problematic and affecting the lives of indigenous peoples in Indonesia. With an aim to create a social integration, lands and rights of indigenous peoples are exploited which threatens the survival of these people as shown in the briefing paper published by Forest Peoples Programme.
 
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