Kim Reimann, assistant professor
of political science at Georgia
State, has won a $73,000
grant from the Social Sciences Research Council to study the role of
non-governmental organizations in the regional politics of east Asia.
“It’s been a part of the world
where NGOs have not had a lot of influence historically,” she said. But the
number of non-governmental organizations in Asia
has grown tremendously since the 1980’s. And since the 1990’s, those groups
have increasingly worked together across national borders.
The Abe Fellowship, which is
designed in part to encourage research into industrial and industrializing
society, is a perfect fit for Reimann’s work, which focuses on issues of
sustainable development and environmental protection. The tremendous growth of
industry in Asia is putting pressure on the
environment, and also on some groups of people that depend on natural resources
for their livelihood, she said.
As a result, NGOs are forming
networks to address a variety of environmental issues. These networks stretch
across national borders and connect groups of different sizes and resources –
from enormous international nonprofits like the World Wildlife Fund on one hand
all the way down to community activists. These networks work together to
protest, advocate for their interests and even set up collaborations with
national governments and regional institutions like the Asian Development Bank.
Reimann’s grant will be funding
a year’s worth of overseas research, which will include several Asian countries:
Japan, the Phillippines, Indonesia, Malaysia
and Thailand, with possible
side trips to Laos and Vietnam.
Her plan is to do four case studies: the Asian Development Bank, and two on
international conservation efforts, one in the Mekong Delta and one in the Sulu
and Sulawesi seas.
In addition to her own, specific
research, Reimann hopes to gather some basic data on NGOs in the region to
share with other scholars. There’s no good listing of local NGO’s in east Asia,
for example – just knowing who is doing what and where would be a huge
advantage to researchers.
“Part of the reason to go is
just the opportunity to learn things that aren’t online,” she said.
Reimann began preparing for this
project with a month-long trip to Thailand and the Phillippines last summer, which was funded
by a Georgia State University Research Initiation Grant. That initial research
gave her the data to apply successfully for the Abe Fellowship.