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Durham University

Research & business

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Mr Yu-Kai Liao

Contact Mr Yu-Kai Liao

Current Research Project

I am currently working on Crustacean Capitalism in The Amphibious Mekong Delta: Dynamic Relations of Land-water and Agro-aquaculture. The Mekong Delta has recently experienced in the severity of annual flood events, as well as drought and salinity intrusion. As a combined result of sea-level rise and drought, the Vietnamese government recently announced The Master Plan on Fisheries Development of Vietnam to 2020, Vision to 2030 to raise the status of shrimp farming in the Mekong Delta to boost shrimp exports by embracing international markets. In Vietnam, as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, shrimp aquaculture is increasingly overtaking traditional rice farming and has the potential to lift farmers out of poverty because of promising markets and stable prices of shrimp.

This research aims to analyse dynamic relationships between land-water and agro-aquaculture in the Mekong Delta in threefold:

  1. What forms of infrastructure and hydro-social life does crustacean capitalism require in the Mekong Delta for shifting from growing rice to breeding shrimp?
  2. How does crustacean capitalism shape infrastructure and hydro-social life in the Mekong Delta?
  3. How do hydro-social life and infrastructure influence each other?

Previous Education

I obtained my bachelor and master degree with honours at National Taiwan University (NTU) with a major in Geography. I received Distinguished Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Awards from the Dean of College of Science, NTU in 2008 and 2014.

Both of my bachelor and master theses focused on recycling and waste economies. In my bachelor thesis,I analysed how spatial clustering, social networks and the commodification of waste influence the industrial symbiosis of ecological parks. I was honoured to receive the Creativity Award from the Ministry of Science and Technology for the Bachelor thesis.

Following the research results of my bachelor research, and inspired by Callon’s ideas on marketisation, I theorised on how the construction of the circular economy is based on how values of waste are calculated and commodified through the use of various kinds of calculative tools, institutional regulations and recycling technologies. This research has been presented at the IBG-RGS conference and published in Journal of Geographical Science.

Research Interests

  • Geography of Waste
  • Political Ecology
  • Science, Technology, and Society Studies


Book review

  • Liao, Yu-Kai (2016). Book Review: Material Politics: Disputes Along The Pipeline. 地理學報 Journal of Geographical Science (80): 81-86.
  • Chu, Ling-I, Liao, Yu-Kai & Lai, Yen-Fu (2015). Book Review: Reshaping Economic Geography. 地理學報 Journal of Geographical Science (79): 85-92.

Chapter in book

  • Hsu, Jinn-Yuh & Liao, Yu-Kai (2017). Path Dependence. In The Wiley-AAG international encyclopedia of geography. Richardson, D., Castree, N., Goodchild, M. Liu, W. Kobayashi, A. & Marston, R. Wiley-Blackwell.

Conference Paper

  • Chien, Shiuh-Shen & Liao, Yu-Kai (2018), Politics of Volume Spectacle in Contemporary Beijing- Case of 2014 APEC Blue Sky, Association of Asian Studies. Washington DC, United States.
  • Liao, Yu-Kai (2014), Wasting and valuing: the economization of electronic waste recycling, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference. London, England.

Journal Article

  • Liao, Yu-Kai & Chien, Shiuh-Shen (Accepted). 地理學中的量體轉向:領土立體化、地球物理政治與環境中的情感氛圍 Volumetric Turn in Human Geography: Three dimensional territory, geophysical politics and affective atmosphere. 地理學報 Journal of Geographical Science
  • Liao, Yu-Kai (2017). 點石成金:事業廢棄物與貴金屬回收的市場分析 Midas Touch: Calculating Industrial Electronic Waste Value, and Qualifying Precious Metals. 地理學報 Journal of Geographical Science (85): 47-71.
  • Lu, Jing-Chen, Jou, Sue-Ching & Liao, Yu-Kai (2015). 落差與接軌?從國際發展看台灣的都市氣候治理與研究 Global Trend and Taiwan’s Research Landscape for Urban Climate Governance. 都市與計劃 Journal of City and Planning 42(1): 7-38.

Is supervised by

Selected Grants

  • 2018: Taiwan Government Scholarship for Further Study (Disaster Management and Climate Change)
  • 2011: College Student Research Scholarship, National Science Council, Taiwan