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Staff Profile

Professor Jonathan Rigg

Professor in the Department of Geography
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My research interests encompass, in broad terms, the problems, tensions and potentialities of development in the Southeast Asian region. This is based on a long-term commitment to the region dating back to 1980.

Initially my work had an agricultural focus. My PhD research, which included an extended period in Thailand based in the poor Northeastern region, examined the constraints that the environment placed on farmers as they attempted to increase production in this marginal area. The research resulted in a series of publications that sought to reappraise the role of the environment as a determining factor at a time when such views were out of vogue.

The work also, however, highlighted the declining role of agriculture in people’s lives and this led to two follow-up pieces of fieldwork. First, an examination of the role of migration and remittances in rural people’s livelihood strategies; and second, a return visit to the original research site where I tracked down the subjects of the initial PhD fieldwork to appraise trajectories of change over the intervening years. A series of articles examining the deep-seated transformations that are occurring in rural areas of Southeast Asia resulted and an integrating book is due to be published at the end of 2000.

Another thread to my research has been a continuing interest in the environment and, more particularly, in political ecology. This is reflected in an edited book and papers on such topics as dam construction, forest management, and the non-timber forest products. Rather more widely, my work on rural areas of Southeast Asia has also spawned a number of subsidiary interests, all with an emphasis on contemporary development issues: on the role of NGOs in development; on languages of modernisation; and on exclusion, ethnicity, citizenship and nation building.

Research Groups

Department of Geography

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Challenges of the agrarian transition in Southeast Asia, The
  • Production in aquatic peri-urban systems in South East Asian
  • Rural-urban dynamics in a globalising world: Changing livelihoods and settlement patterns in frontier regions of Africa and Asia

School of Applied Social Sciences

  • Earthquakes without frontiers: a partnership for increasing resilience to seismic hazard in the continents, £3.5m (Durham £680K)

Research Interests

  • Agricultural development and rural change with particular reference to South East Asia
  • Alternative and indigenous development
  • Migration and the village economy

Selected Publications

Books: authored

  • Rigg, J. (2012). Unplanned development: tracking change in South-East Asia. Zed Books.
  • Rigg.J. (2007). An everyday geography of the Global South. London.: Taylor and Francis.
  • Rigg, J. (2005). Living with Transition in Laos: Market integration in Southeast Asia. London.: Routledge.
  • Rigg, J. (2003). Southeast Asia: The Human Landscape of Modernisation and Development. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Rigg, J. (2001). More than the Soil, Rural change in Southeast Asia. Prentice Hall.

Books: edited

  • Rigg, J. & Vandergeest, P. (2012). Revisiting rural places: pathways to poverty and prosperity in Southeast Asia. Singapore University Press and Hawaii University Press.
  • Wong, T.C. & Rigg, J. (2010). Asian cities, migrant labor and contested spaces. Routledge.
  • Rigg.J. (2008). Southeast Asian development: critical concepts in the social sciences. London.: Routledge.

Books: sections

  • Rigg, J., Veeravongs, S., Rohitarachoon, P. & Veeravongs, L. (2010). A revolution in the Thai handicraft industry? Handicrafts, integration and rural development in northern Thailand. In Rural-urban dynamics: livelihoods, mobility and markets in African and Asian frontiers. Agergaard, J., Fold, N. & Gough, K.V. London: Routledge. 116-132.
  • Rigg, J. (2010). An early critical foray into participation in Thailand. In Tracks and Traces: Thailand and the Work of Andrew Turton. Tapp, N. & Hirsch, P. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press.
  • Rigg, J. & Wong, T.C. (2010). Contestation and exclusion in Asian urban spaces under the impact of globalization: an introduction. In Asian Cities, migrant labor and contested spaces. Wong, T.C. & Rigg, J. London: Routledge.
  • Salamanca, A.M. & Rigg, J. (2010). Living at the margins: migration and the contested arena of waste re-use aquaculture systems on Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In Asian cities, migrant labour and contested spaces. Wong, T.C. & Rigg, J. London: Routledge. 265-286.
  • Rigg, J., Veeravongs, S., Veeravongs, L. & Rohitarachoon, P. (2010). Migrant labour in the factory zone: contested spaces in the extended Bangkok Region. In Asian cities, migrant labor and contested spaces. Wong, T.C. & Rigg, J. London: Routledge.
  • Rigg, J., Veeravongs, S., Rohitarachoon, P. & Veeravongs, L. (2009). From farm to factory: village change in a rice-growing region. In Rural-urban dynamics:livelihoods, mobility and markets in African and Asian frontiers. Agergaard, J., Fold, N. & Gough, K. London: Routledge. 134-150.
  • Gough, K. & Rigg, J. (2009). Handicraft and manufacturing frontier: transforming livelihoods, re-shaping settlements. In Rural-urban dynamics: livelihoods, mobility and markets in African and Asian frontiers. Agergaard, J., Fold, N. & Gough, K.V. London: Routledge. 151-157.
  • Rigg, J. & Wittayapak, C. (2009). Spatial integration and human transformations in the Greater Mekong subregion. In Reshaping Economic Geography in East Asia. Huang, Y & Bocchi, A.M. Washington DC: The World Bank. 79-99.
  • Rigg, J. (2008). Southeast Asian development: an introductory essay. In South East Asian Development: critical concepts in the social sciences. Rigg, J. London.: Routledge. 1: 1-57.
  • Rigg, J. (2008). The Millennium Development Goals. In The Arnold companion to development studies. Potter, R. & Desai, V. London: Arnold.
  • Rigg, J. (2006). Data from international agencies. In Doing development research. Desai, V. & Potter, R. London: Sage. 282-293.
  • Rigg, J. (2006). Piers Blaikie. In 50 Key Thinkers on Development. Simon, D. London: Routledge. 35-39.
  • Rigg, J. (2004). Labour relations in a changing rural world: the evolving Thai experience. In Labour in Southeast Asia: local processes in a globalised world. Elmhirst, R. & Saptari, R. RoutledgeCurzon. 287-310.
  • Rigg, J. (2003). Evolving Rural-Urban Relations: changing patterns of life and livelihood. In Southeast Asia transformed: a Geography of Change. Sien, C. L. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. 231-255.
  • Rigg, J. (2003). Exclusion and embeddedness: the Chinese in Thailand and Vietnam. In Geographic perspectives on the Chinese diaspora: space, place, mobility and identity. Laurence, J. & Cartier, C. Rowan and Littlefield. 97-115.
  • Rigg, J. (2003). Land and livelihoods in Southeast Asia: breaking the bond? In Agrarian transformation and a real differentiation in globalizing Southeast Asia. Umehara, H. Rikkyo University Centre for Asian Area Studies. 385-406.
  • Rigg, J. (2001). Rural areas, rural people and the Asian crisis: ordinary people in a globalizing World. In Rethinking Development in East Asia. Masina, P. NIAS. 241-260.
  • Rigg, J. (2001). The Asian Crisis. In The Arnold Companion to Development Studies. Potter, R. & Desai, V. Arnold. 27-32.

Articles: magazine

  • Rigg, J. & Salamanca, A. (2005). The future of periurban aquatic food production systems in Southeast Asia. Urban Agriculture Magazine 14: 20-23.
  • Rigg, J. (2001). AIDS in Thailand: the development challenge. Geography Review 14(3): 39-41.
  • Rigg, J. (2001). Globalisation: threat or opportunity. Geography Review 14(4): 36-37.

Journal papers: academic

  • Nguyen, T.A., Rigg, J., Luong, T.T.H. & Dinh, T.D. (2012). Becoming and being urban in Hanoi: Rural-urban migration and relations in Viet Nam. Journal of Peasant Studies
  • Rigg, J.R., Salamanca, A. & Parnwell, M. (2012). Joining the Dots of Agrarian Change in Asia: A 25 Year View from Thailand. World Development 40(7): 1469-1481.
  • Gough, K.V. & Rigg, J. (2012). Reterritorialising rural handicrafts in Thailand and Vietnam: a view from the margins of the miracle. Environment and Planning A 44(1): 169-186.
  • Hewage, P., Kumara, C. & Rigg, J. (2011). Connecting and disconnecting people and places: migrants, migration, and the household in Sri Lanka. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101(1): 202-219.
  • Rigg, J. & Salamanca, A. (2011). Connecting lives and places: mobility and spatial signatures in Northeast Thailand, 1982-2009. Critical Asian Studies 43(4): 551-575.
  • Rigg, J. (2009). A particular place? Laos and its incorporation into the development mainstream. Environment and Planning A 41(3): 703-721.
  • Bryceson, D.F., Gough, K.V., Rigg, J. & Agergaard, J. (2009). Critical Commentary. The World Development Report 2009. Urban Studies 46(4): 723-738.
  • Rigg, J. (2009). Grand narrative or modest comparison? Reflecting on the 'lessons' of East Asian development and growth. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 30(1): 29-34.
  • Rigg, J.D. & Salamanca, A. (2009). Managing risk and vulnerability in Asia: A (re)study from Thailand, 1982-83 and 2008. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 50(3): 255-270.
  • Rigg, J., Bebbington, A., Gough, K.V., Bryceson, D.F., Agergaard, J., Fold, N. & Tacoli, C. (2009). The World Development Report 2009 'reshapes economic geography': geographical reflections. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 34(2): 128 - 136.
  • Rigg, J., Tan-Mullins, M., Law, L. & Grundy-Warr, C. (2008). Grounding a natural disaster: Thailand and the 2004 tsunami. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 49(2): 137-154.
  • Rigg, J., Veeravongs, S., Veeravongs, L. & Rohitarachoon, P. (2008). Reconfiguring rural spaces and remaking rural lives in Central Thailand. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 39(3): 355-381.
  • Rigg, J.D., Grundy-Warr, C., Law, L. & Tan-Mullins, M. (2007). Beyond the political economy of a natural disaster: Thailand and the 2004 tsunami. Antipode
  • Tan-Mullins, M., Rigg, J., Law, L. & Grundy-Warr, C. (2007). Mapping the local politics of aid: structures, networks and capitals in post-tsunami Thailand. Progress in Development Studies 7(4): 327-344.
  • Rigg, J. (2007). McGee on Eurocentrism in geography. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 48(2): 264-265.
  • Rigg, J. (2007). Moving lives: migration and livelihoods in the Lao PDR. Population, Space and Place 13(3): 163-178.
  • Rigg, J.D. (2006). Forests, Marketization, Livelihoods and the Poor in the Lao PDR. Land Degradation and Development 17: 123-133.
  • Rigg, J. (2006). Land, farming, livelihoods, and poverty: Rethinking the links in the rural South. World Development 34(1): 180-202.
  • Rigg, J. (2005). Poverty and livelihoods after full-time farming: a South-East Asian view. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 46(2): 173-184.
  • Rigg, J. (2005). The Asian tsunami, academics and academic research. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 26(2): 244-248.
  • Rigg, J., Law, L., Tan-Mullins, M. & Grundy-Warr, C. (2005). The Indian Ocean tsunami: socio-economic impacts in Thailand. The Geographical Journal 171(4): 374-379.
  • Rigg, J. (2004). Building sustainable livelihoods in the Lao PDR: untangling farm and non-farm. Geoforum 35: 607-619.
  • Rigg, J., Bouahom, B. & Duangsavanh, L. (2004). Money, morals, and markets: evolving rural labour markets in Thailand and the Lao PDR. Environment and Planning A 36(6): 983-998.
  • Wilson, G.A. & Rigg, J. (2003). 'Post-productivist' agricultural regimes and the South: discordant concepts? Progress in Human Geography 27(6): 681-707.
  • Mawdsley, E. & Rigg, J. (2003). The World Development Report Series II: continuity and change in development orthodoxies. Progress in Development Studies 3(4): 271-286.
  • Mawdsley, E. & Rigg, J. (2002). A survey of the World development reports I: discursive strategies. Progress in Development Studies 2(2): 93-111.
  • Rigg, J. (2002). Of miracles and crises: (re)interpretations of growth and decline in East and Southeast Asia. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 43(2): 137-156.
  • Rigg, J. & Ritchie, M. (2002). Production, consumption and imagination in rural Thailand. Journal of Rural Studies 18(4): 359-371.
  • Rigg, J. (2002). Roads, marketization and social exclusion in Southeast Asia - What do roads do to people? Bijdragen Tot De Taal- Land- En Volkenkunde 158(4): 619-636.
  • Rigg, J. & Nattapoolwat, S. (2001). Embracing the global in Thailand: Activism and pragmatism in an era of deagrarianization. World Development 29(6): 945-960.
  • Parnwell, M. & Rigg, J. (2001). Global dissatisfactions: Globalisation, resistance and compliance in southeast Asia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 22(3): 205-211.
  • Parnwell, M. & Rigg, J. (2001). Global processes, local responses: resistance and compliance in Southeast Asia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 22(3): 205-211.

Reports: official

  • Little, D., Borin, C., Rigg, J. & Dalsgaard, A. (2003). State-of-the-System Report: Cambodia. Report Series No. 2/2003. Royal University of Agriculture and the Asian Institute of Technology.
  • Little, D., Anh Tuan, P., Dac Cam, P., Rigg, J. & Dalsgaard, A. (2003). State-of-the-System Report: North Vietnam. Report Series No. 4/2003. Research Institute for Aquaculture No.1, National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology & Asian Institute of Technology.
  • Little, D., Thanh Hung, L., Rigg, J. & Dalsgaard, A. (2003). State-of-the-System Report: South Vietnam. Report Series No. 3/2003. Nong Lam University & Asian Institute of Technology.
  • Little, D., Yoonpundh, R., Rigg, J. & Dalsgaard, A. (2003). State-of-the-System Report: Thailand. Report Series No. 1/2003. Kasetsart University & Asian Institute of Technology.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • International: Business, economy & development: Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma) & Philippines)
  • International: Business, economy & development: Development issues in the Third World