Suhardiman, Prof. Dr. Diana

Diana Suhardiman is director of KITLV and appointed professor by special appointment of Natural Resource Governance, Climate and Equity at Leiden University, at Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, from July 2022 onwards. The chair was established on behalf of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, where she is director of KITLV/the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies since January 2022. In this role she will further strengthen the research programme on climate governance, studying how climate adaptation is entangled with every day’s livelihoods and linked with processes of agrarian change and globalization, while contributing to decolonizing climate debates and climate justice.

Her research looks at natural resource governance and development with particular focus on equity and inclusion. Putting power and politics central in the contemporary struggles of natural resource governance, she looks at power dynamics and power relationships that influence and determine the overall shaping of governance structures, processes, and outcomes across scales (local to transboundary). Placing her research at the intersection of land, water, and environmental governance, she studies power struggles and the politics of representation within the broader context of state transformation processes in Laos and Myanmar.

Suhardiman studied Tropical Land Use at Wageningen University (1998) and obtained her PhD in Social Science from the same university (2008). She has won several research grants, led various research programs, and served as a member of the editorial boards of Agriculture and Human Values and International Journal of Water Resources Development, scholarly committees, both in the Netherlands and globally. Between 2016-2021, she was Research Group Lead Governance and Inclusion at the International Water Management Institute, based in Vientiane, Laos, where she also worked as post-doctoral fellow and later (senior) researcher since 2008.

She is the author of more than 60 publications mostly journal articles, book chapters and monographs on the politics of exclusion, processes of contestation and institutional emergence, and transboundary water governance in Southeast Asia.

Selected Publications

With Natalia Scurrah, ‘Institutional bricolage and the (re)shaping of communal land tenure arrangements: Two contrasting cases in upland and lowland Northeastern Laos’, World Development 147, 2021. Online first:

With Natalia Scurrah, ‘Farmer’s agency and institutional bricolage in land use plan implementation in upland Laos’, Land Use Policy 104, 2021. Online first:

With Jonas Kramp, ‘(Un)making the upland: Resettlement, rubber and land use planning in Namai village, Laos’, Journal of Peasant Studies 49-1: 78-100, 2022.

With Jonathan Rigg, ‘Aspirations undone: Hydropower and the (re)shaping of livelihood pathways in Northern Laos’, Agriculture and Human Values 38-4: 963-969, 2021.

With Ayemyaing Nawaye & Natalia Scurrah, ‘Scalar politics, power struggles and institutional emergence in Daw Lar Lake, Myanmar’, Journal of Rural Studies 87: 32-44, 2021.

With Jessica DiCarlo, Oulavanh Keovilignavong, Jonathan Rigg & Alan Nicol, ‘(Re)constructing state power and livelihoods through the Laos-China Railway project’, Geoforum 124: 79-88, 2021.

With Saw John Bright & Casper Palmano, ‘The politics of legal pluralism in the shaping of spatial power in Myanmar’s land governance’, Journal of Peasant Studies 48-2: 411-435, 2021.

With Jonathan Rigg, Marcel Bandur, Melissa Marschke, Michelle Miller, Noudsavanh Pheuangsavanh, Mayvong Sayatham & David Taylor, ‘On the coattails of globalization: COVID-19, migrants and migration in Asia’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 47-1: 88-109, 2021.

With Carl Middleton, ‘The Salween River as a transboundary common: Fragmented collective action, hybrid governance and power’, Asia Pacific Viewpoint 61-2: 301-314, 2020.

With Emma Karki, ‘Spatial politics and local alliances shaping Nepal hydropower’, World Development 122: 525-536, 2019.

Related Links
Ancillary activities

Professor by special appointment of Natural Resource Governance, Climate and Equity, Leiden University.

Member advisory committee ‘Colonial entanglement of Wageningen University’, Wageningen University.

Member Taskforce Climate Research NWO-KNAW.

Member Editorial Advisory Board & Editor in Chief Environmental Governance book series, Leiden University Press, Leiden University.

Editorial board member of journal Agriculture and Human Values, Springer.

Editorial board member of International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis.

Member Food Systems Countdown Initiative, John Hopkins University.

Research output