University of Wisconsin–Madison

Ian Baird

Associate Professor of Geography


Ph.D., Geography, The University of British Columbia, 2008
M.A., Geography, The University of Victoria, 2003

Research Areas

My main geographical area of interest is mainland Southeast Asia, especially Laos, Thailand and northeastern Cambodia. My research interests include:

- Political Ecology (mainly rural)
- Human-Environment Relations
- Insurgencies and political opposition in mainland Southeast Asia
- Development Studies
- Postcolonial Studies
- Social Movements (in mainland Southeast Asia)
- Social Theory - Social and Spatial (Re)organization
- Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Region and Inland Fisheries
- Large-scale Land Concessions/Acquisitions
- Identities and Identification
- Indigeneity in Asia
- Boundaries and Borders
- Hmong Studies
- Lao Studies
- Thai Studies
- Upland peoples in mainland Southeast Asia, especially the Brao and the Hmong
- 19th and 20th Century History in Mainland Southeast Asia

Current Research

I am presently engaged in conducting research on the following:

- the political ecology of large hydropower dam development in the Mekong River Basin, with an emphasis on inland fisheries
- large-scale land concessions/acquisitions and land tenure more generally
- Indigenous Peoples in Asia (particularly Southeast Asia)
- the experiences of ethnic minorities between 1975-1989 in northeastern Cambodia
- political and military issues related to Laos after 1975
- the Hmong and the Communist Party of Thailand
- the histories of various peoples, ethnic groups and social and political movements in Laos and northeastern Cambodia (particularly the Brao, Hmong and the Lao Na Champassak family)

Courses Taught

Fall 2018

Geography/Env. St. 557: Development and Environment in Southeast Asia
Geography/Env. St. 337: Nature, Power and Society

Spring 2019

Geography 358: Human Geography of Southeast Asia


I am presently the director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) at UW-Madison

Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Center for Culture, History and Environment
Land Tenure Center
Asian American Studies Program
Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies

Recent Publications


Baird, I.G. 2009. Dipterocarpus Wood Resin Tenure, Management and Trade: Practices of the Brao in Northeast Cambodia. Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken, Germany, 257 pp.

Baird, I.G. & Bruce Shoemaker 2008. People, Livelihoods and Development in the Xekong River Basin of Laos. White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 435 pp.+

Haggan, Nigel, Barbara Neis & I.G. Baird (eds.) 2007.Fishers’ Knowledge in Fisheries Science and Management. Coastal Management Sourcebooks Series, UNESCO, Paris, 437 pp.

Shoemaker, Bruce, I.G. Baird & Monsiri Baird 2001. The People and Their River: A Survey of River-based Livelihoods in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin in Central Lao PDR. Lao PDR/Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, Vientiane, Lao PDR, 79 pp.

Baird, I.G., Vixay Inthaphaisy, Phongsavat Kisouvannalat, Bounpheng Phylaivanh & Bounhong Mounsouphom 1999. The Fishes of Southern Lao (In Lao). Lao Community Fisheries and Dolphin Protection Project, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Pakse, Lao PDR, 162 pp.


Journal Articles

Morton, Micah & I.G. Baird 2019 (Forthcoming). From Hill Tribe to Indigenous Peoples: The localization of a global movement in Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies.

Baird, I.G., William Noseworthy, Nghiem Phuong Tuyen, Le Thu Ha & Jefferson Fox 2018. Land Grabs and Labour: Vietnamese Workers on Rubber Plantations in Southern Laos. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

Fox, Jefferson, Tuyen Nghiem, Ham Kimkong, Kasper Hurni, and I.G. Baird 2018. Large-Scale Land Concessions, Migration, and Land Use: The Paradox of Industrial Estates in the Red River Delta of Vietnam and Rubber Plantations of Northeast Cambodia. Land.

Ozdogon, Mutlu, I.G. Baird & Michael Dwyer 2018. The Role of Remote Sensing for Understanding Large-Scale Rubber Concession Expansion in Southern Laos. Land.


Baird, I.G. 2018. Champasak Royal Sacred Images, Power and Political Geography. South East Asia Research.

Baird, I.G. 2018. Secrecy, falsification and information management and control: The party and state of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Witthayapak, Chusak and I.G. Baird 2018. Communal Land Titling Dilemmas in Northern Thailand: From Community to beneficial Yet Uncertain and Risky Options. Land Use Policy 71: 320-328.

Baird, I.G. 2017. An anti-racism methodology: The Native Sons and Daughters and racism against Asians in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. The Canadian Geographer.

Baird, I.G. & Cansong Li 2017. Variegated borderlands governance: Examples from Dehong Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture along the China-Myanmar border. Geoforum 85: 214-224.

Baird, I.G. 2017. Biography and borderlands: Chao Sone Bouttarobol, a Champassak Royal and Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. TRaNS: Trans-Regional and –National Studies of Southeast Asia 5(2): 269-295.

Baird, I.G. & Keith Barney 2017. The political ecology of cross-sectoral cumulative impacts: Modern landscapes, large hydropower dams and industrial tree plantations in Laos and Cambodia. Journal of Peasant Studies 44(4): 769-795.

Baird, I.G. 2017. Resistance and contingent contestations to large-scale land concessions in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. Land 6(16), 19 pp. (published online)

Manorom, Kanokwan, I.G. Baird & Bruce Shoemaker 2017. The World Bank, hydropower-based poverty alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-ground realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Laos. Forum for Development Studies 44(2): 275-300.

Hung, Po-Yi & I.G. Baird 2017. From soldiers to farmers: The political geography of Chinese Kuomintang territorialization in northern Thailand. Political Geography (published online).

Baird, I.G., Prasit Leepreecha & Urai Yangcheepsujarit 2017. Who should be considered “Indigenous”? A survey of ethnic groups in northern Thailand. Asian Ethnicity 18(4): 543-562.

Baird, I.G. & Pao Vue 2017. The ties that bind: The role of Hmong social networks in developing small-scale rubber cultivation in Laos. Mobilities 12(1): 136-154.

Green, W. Nathan & I.G. Baird 2016. Capitalizing on compensation: Hydropower resettlement and the commodification and decommodification of nature-society relations in southern Laos. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106(4): 853-873.

Baird, I.G. 2016. Non-government organizations, villagers, political culture and the Lower Sesan 2 dam in northeastern Cambodia. Critical Asian Studies 48(2): 257-277.

Baird, I.G. 2016. Indigeneity in Asia: An emerging but contested concept. Asian Ethnicity 17(4): 501-505.

Baird, I.G. 2016. Should ethnic Lao people be considered indigenous to Cambodia? Ethnicity, classification and the politics of indigeneity. Asian Ethnicity 17(4): 506-526.

Winemiller, Kirk, P.B. McIntyre, L. Castello, E. Fluet-Chouinard, T. Giarrizzo, S. Nam, I.G. Baird, W. Darwall, N.K. Lujan, I. Harrison, M.L.J. Stiassny, R.A.M. Silvano, D.B. Fitzgerald, F.M. Pelicice, A.A. Agostinho, L.C. Gomes, J.S. Albert, E. Baran, M. Petrere Jr., C. Zarfl, M. Mulligan, J.P. Sullivan, C.C. Arantes, L.M. Sousa, A.A. Koning, D.J. Hoeinghaus, M. Sabaj, J.G. Lundberg, J. Armbruster, M.L. Thieme, P. Petry, J. Zuanon, G. Torrente Vilara, J. Snoeks, C. Ou, W. Rainboth, C.S. Pavanelli, A. Akama, A. van Soesbergen, L. Saenz 2016 (Forthcoming). Hydropower expansion in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong - a looming threat to global biodiversity. Science 351(6269): 128-129.

Dwyer, Michael B., Micah Ingalls and I.G. Baird 2015. The security exception: Development and militarization Laos's Protected Areas. Geoforum 69: 207-217.

Baird, I.G. 2015. 1975: Rescaling our understanding of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Geopolitics 20(4): 754-758.

Baird, I.G. & Christine Elliott 2015. An introduction to a second collection of papers presented at the Fourth International Conference on Lao Studies (4ICLS). Journal of Lao Studies Special Issue 2: 1-5.

Baird, I.G. & Jefferson Fox 2015. How land concessions affect places elsewhere: Telecoupling, Political Ecology, and large-scale plantations in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. Land 4: 436-453.

Baird, I.G. & Christine Elliott 2015. An introduction to a collection of papers presented at the Fourth International Conference on Lao Studies (4ICLS). Journal of Lao Studies Special Issue 1: 1-5.

Baird, I.G., Bruce P. Shoemaker & Kanokwan Manorom 2015. The People and their river, the World Bank and its dam: Revisiting the Xe Bang Fai River in Laos. Development and Change 46(5): 1080-1105.

Baird, I.G. & Noah Quastel 2015. Re-scaling and reordering nature-society relations: The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Dam and Laos-Thailand electricity networks. Annals of the Association of the American Geographer 105(6): 1221-1239.

Baird, Ian G. & Pao Vue 2015. The ties that bind: The role of Hmong social networks in developing small-scale rubber cultivation in Laos. Mobilities (published online).

Baird, I.G. 2015. Translocal assemblages and the circulation of the concept of "indigenous peoples" in Laos. Political Geography 46: 54-64.

Baird, I.G. 2014. Chao Fa movies: The transnational production of Hmong American history and identity. Hmong Studies Journal 15(1): 1-24.

Baird, I.G. 2014. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and access and exclusion: Obstacles and opportunities in Cambodia and Laos. Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University 3(3): 643-668.

Baird, I.G. 2014. Degraded forest, degraded land, and the development of industrial tree plantations in Laos. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 35: 328-344.

Harms, Erik & I.G. Baird 2014. Wastelands, degraded lands and forests, and the class(ification) struggle: Three critical perspectives from mainland Southeast Asia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 35: 289-294.

Baird, I.G. 2014. The global land grab meta-narrative, Asian money laundering and elite capture: Reconsidering the Cambodian context. Geopolitics 19(2): 431-453.

Baird, I.G. 2014. Principled engagement: Obstacles and opportunities in an increasingly consultancy dominated world. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographers 13(4): 473-477.

Dwyer, Michael B. & I.G. Baird 2014. Principled engagement: Political ecologists outside the academy. Introduction to a set of short interventions. ACME: An Academic E-Journal for Critical Geographers 13(4): 497-507.

Baird, I.G. 2014. Political memories of conflict, economic land concessions, and political landscapes in the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Geoforum 52: 61-69.

Baird, I.G. 2014. The cult of Phaya Narin Songkhram: Spirit mediums and shifting socio-cultural boundaries in northeastern Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 45(1): 50-73.

Baird, I.G. 2013. Shifting contexts and performances: The Brao-Kavet and their sacred mountains in northeast Cambodia. Asian Highlands Perspectives 28: 1-23.

Baird, I.G. 2013. 'Indigenous Peoples' and land: Comparing communal land titling and its implications in Cambodia and Laos. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 54(3): 269-281.

Baird, I.G. & Peter Hammer 2013. Contracting illness: Reassessing donor-initiated health experiments in Cambodia's indigenous periphery. South East Asia Research 21(3): 457-473.

Baird, I.G. 2013. Millenarian movements in southern Laos and northeastern Siam (Thailand) at the turn of the twentieth century: Reconsidering the involvement of the Champassak Royal House. South East Asia Research 21(2): 257-279.

Baird, I.G. 2013. Remembering old homes: The Houay Ho Dam, the resettlement of the Heuny (Nya Heun), and the struggle for space. Pages 241-263 in Oliver Tappe and Vatthana Pholsena (eds.), Interactions with a Violent Past: Reading Post-Colonial Landscapes in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. University of Singapore Press, Singapore.

Baird, I.G. 2013.The ethnoecology of the Kavet Peoples in northeast Cambodia. Pages 155-176 in Mark Poffenberger (ed.), Cambodia's Contested Forest Domain: The Role of Community Forestry in the New Millennium. Ateneo De Manila University Press, Manila.

Ziegler, Alan D., Trevor N. Petney, Carl Grundy-Warr, Ross H. Andrews, I.G. Baird, Robert J. Wasson, & Paiboon Sithithaworn 2013 (Forthcoming). Dams and disease triggers on the Lower Mekong River. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 7(6) e2166.doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002166

Baird, I.G. 2012. The monks and the Hmong: The special relationship between the Chao Fa and the Tham Krabok Buddhist Temple in Saraburi Province, Thailand. Pages 120-151 in Vladimir Tikhonov and Torkel Brekke (eds.), Buddhism and Violence: Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia. Routledge, London.

Baird, I.G. 2012. Lao Buddhist monks and their involvement in political and militant resistance to the Lao People's Democratic Republic government since 1975. Journal of Asian Studies 71(3): 655-677.

Baird, I.G. & Philippe Le Billon 2012. Landscapes of political memories: War legacies and land negotiations in Laos. Political Geography 31(5): 290-300.

Baird, I.G. 2011. Turning land into capital, turning people into labour: Primitive accumulation and the arrival of large-scale economic land concessions in Laos. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 5(1): 10-26.

Baird, I.G. 2011. The Don Sahong Dam: Potential impacts on regional fish migrations, livelihoods and human health. Critical Asian Studies 43(2): 211-235.

Baird, I.G. 2011. Questioning the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial in the context of the Brao in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographers 10(1): 48-57.

Baird, I.G. & Noah Quastel 2011. Dolphin-safe tuna from California to Thailand: Localisms in environmental certification of global commodity networks. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(2): 337-355.

Baird, I.G. 2010. The Hmong come to southern Laos: Local responses and the creation of racialized boundaries. Hmong Studies Journal 11: 1-38.

Baird, I.G. 2010. The US Central Intelligence Agency and the Brao: The story of Kong My, a non-Communist space in Attapeu Provinec, southern Laos. Aseanie 25: 23-51.

Baird, I.G. 2010. Different views of history: Shades of irredentism along the Laos-Cambodia border. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 41(2): 187-213.

Baird, I.G. 2010. Making space: The ethnic Brao and the international border between Laos and Cambodia. Geoforum 41(2): 271-281.

Baird, I.G. 2010. Land, rubber and people: Rapid agrarian change and responses in southern Laos. Journal of Lao Studies 1(1): 1-47.

Baird, I.G. 2009. Spatial (re)organization and places of the Brao in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 30: 299-312.

Baird, I.G. 2009. From Champasak to Cambodia: Chao Thammatheva, a wily and influential ethnic Lao leader. Aseanie 23: 31-62.

Baird, I.G. 2009. Identities and space: The geographies of religious change amongst the Brao in northeastern Cambodia. Anthropos Redaktion 104(2): 457-468.

Baird, I.G. 2009. Various forms of colonialism: The social and spatial re-organisation of the Brao in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia, Completed at Department of Geography, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of British Columbia, February 2008 (abstract published). Recently completed doctorates in social and cultural geography. Social & Cultural Geography 10(3): 399.

Baird, I.G., Keith Barney, Peter Vandergeest & Bruce Shoemaker 2009. Internal resettlement in Laos. The implications of reading too much into aspirations: More explorations of the space between coerced and voluntary resettlement in Laos. Critical Asian Studies 41(4): 605-614 (rejoinder by Holly High 41(4): 615-620.)

Hogan, Zeb, Baird, I.G. & Tach Phanara 2009. Threatened fishes of the world: Probabus jullieni Sauvage 1880 (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae). Environmental Biology of Fishes 84(3): 291-292.

Keller, Charles, Jacqueline Jordi, Ken Gregerson & Baird, I.G. 2008. The Brao dialects of Cambodia: Lexical and phonological variations. Revue de l’Institut de la Langue Nationale de l’Académie Royale du Cambodge. Institute of Language, Phnom Penh, Special Issue, July 2008: 87-152.

Baird, I.G. 2007. Contested history, ethnicity and remembering the past: The case of the Ay Sa rebellion in southern Laos. Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 18(2): 119-159.

Baird, I.G. 2007. Fishes and forests: the importance of seasonally flooded riverine habitat for Mekong River fish species. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society 55(1): 121-148.

Baird, I.G. & Bruce P. Shoemaker 2007. Unsettling experiences: Internal resettlement and international aid agencies in the Lao PDR. Development and Change 38(5): 865-888.

Hogan, Zeb, Baird, I.G., Richard Radtke & M. Jake Vander Zanden 2007. Long distance migration and marine habitation in the Asian catfish, Pangasius krempfi. Journal of Fish Biology 71: 818-832.

Wyatt, Andrew B. & Baird, I.G. 2007. Transboundary impact assessment in the Sesan River Basin: The case of the Yali Falls Dam. International Journal of Water Resources Development 23(3): 427-442.

Baird, I.G. 2006. Probarbus jullieni and Probarbus labeamajor: The management and conservation of two of the largest fish species in the Mekong River in southern Laos. Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems 16(5): 517-532.

Baird, I.G. 2006. Strength in diversity: Fish sanctuaries and deep-water pools in Laos. Fisheries Management and Ecology 13(1): 1-8.

Baird, I.G.2006. Conducting rapid biology-based assessments using local ecological knowledge. Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society 54(2): 167-175.

Baird, I.G. & Isabel L. Beasley 2005. Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in the Mekong River in Cambodia: An initial survey. Oryx 39(3): 301-310.

Baird, I.G. & Mark S. Flaherty 2005. Mekong River fish conservation zones in southern Laos: Assessing effectiveness using local ecological knowledge. Environmental Management36(3): 439-454.

Awards and Honors

I was awarded a Vilas Associates Award from UW-Madison for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years.

I was awarded a "Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity (REI) Fellowship" at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison, for the 2014-2015 academic year. This fellowship supported my research on Indigenous Peoples movements in Southeast Asia.

Graduate Students and Postdocs

Current PhD students:   Akarath Soukhaphon (Geography), David Chambers (Geography), Peter Swift (Geography), Will Shattuck (Geography), W. Nathan Green (Geography) Puttaporn (Jip) Areeprachakun (Geography)     Current Master's students:   Zhe Yu Lee (Geography, co-advised with Morgan Robertson), Kevin Inks (Geography), Tammy Silbaugh (Southeast Asian Studies)   Past PhD Students: Pao Vue (Geography) Past Master's students:   Shengqi Zhang (completed 2016, Southeast Asian Studies), Michael Dunford (completed 2016, Southeast Asian Studies), Aurore Phenow (completed 2015, Southeast Asian Studies), W. Nathan Green (completed 2014, Southeast Asian Studies), Nicholas Zeller (completed 2014, Southeast Asian Studies), Will Shattuck (completed 2013, Geography), Peter Swift (completed 2013, Geography), Noi Sinouthasy (completed 2013, Southeast Asian Studies), David Chambers (completed 2013, Southeast Asian Studies), Inthava Borihane (completed 2013, Southeast Asian Studies)

Other Activities

Main faculty for the UW-Madison part of the Hmong Studies Consortium (in collaboration with University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Chiang Mai Universities and other universities)


Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Department of Geography
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 455, Science Hall
550 North Park Street
Madison, Wisconsin
USA 53706

Phone: (608) 265-0012

Fax: 6082653991