Ian Baird

Position title: Professor

Email: ibaird@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 265-0012

Room 455, Science Hall


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


Political Ecology (predominantly rural); Development Studies; Identities; Indigeneity; Borders and Boundaries; Hydropower Development and Fisheries in the Mekong Basin; Large-scale Land Concessions / Acquisitions; Political and Military Resistance; Marginal Histories; Upland Peoples in Mainland Southeast Asia; Hmong, Lao, and Thai studies


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


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
– Agricultural certification
– Indigenous Peoples in Asia (particularly Southeast Asia)
– 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)


Spring 2023
Geog 930 – Indigenous Peoples and Nature-Society Relations

Fall 2023 and Spring 2024
Sabbatical – Based in Thailand


Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Center for Culture, History and Environment
Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies
Asian American Studies Program


For a full selection of my publications, see: https://wisc.academia.edu/IanBaird

Rise of the Brao: Ethnic Minorities in Northeastern Cambodia during Vietnamese Occupation (2020) (2nd runner up, EuroSEAS book award 2022)



Awarded a Fulbright-Hays Foreign Research Award (October 2022)

Awarded a H.I. Romnes Faculty Award for Excellence in Research from UW-Madison (May 2022)

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

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.


Current PhD students: May Pannchi (Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies), Dinh Le Thu (Geography), Steffenie Widows (Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies), Po-Tao Chang (Geography), Akarath Soukhaphon (Geography), Zhe Yu Lee (Geography, co-advised with Morgan Robertson), Kevin Inks (Geography)

Current Master’s students: Ray Lacko (Southeast Asian Studies), Tou SaiKo Lee (Southeast Asian Studies), Russell Chapman (Southeast Asian Studies)

Past PhD Students: David Chambers (Geography, completed 2020), Peter Swift (Geography, completed 2019), Will Shattuck (Geography, completed 2019), W. Nathan Green (Geography, completed 2019), Puttaporn (Jip) Areeprachakun (Geography, completed 2020), Pao Vue (Geography, completed 2018)

Past Master’s students: Bao Xiong (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2021), Zhe Yu Lee (Geography, co-advised with Morgan Robertson, completed 2019), Kevin Inks (Geography, completed 2020) Shengqi Zhang (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2016), Michael Dunford (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2016), Aurore Phenow (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2015), W. Nathan Green (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2014), Nicholas Zeller (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2014), Will Shattuck (Geography, completed 2013), Peter Swift (Geography, completed 2013), Noi Sinouthasy (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2013), David Chambers (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2013), Inthava Borihane (Southeast Asian Studies, completed 2013)


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) https://hmongstudies.wisc.edu/