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Sarah Luft, Fellowship Grant 2019

New Connectivity in Asia: Pioneering border corridors and transnational transformation processes in the Greater Myeik Area/Myanmar and Prachuap Khiri Khan/Thailand.


Myeik city center in 2017 (Picture by S. Luft)

I received the Fellowship Grant from the GSGS for a three-month period from August to October 2019. The financial support helped me to profoundly continue the work on my PhD Project. It focuses on the newly emerging transnational border corridor from the Greater Myeik Area in South Myanmar to Prachuap Khiri Khan in Thailand across the Mawdaung-Singkhon border checkpoint. Unlike other Myanmar-Thai border developments, the Mawdaung-Singkhon border opening is still underway. The checkpoint is only restrictively passable and represents a missing link in the regional context and wider ASEAN picture. TheGreater Myeik Area, at the western end of the corridor, is an ascending nodal point. Its functional development is expected to gain more relevance in the coming years. Prachuap Khiri Khan, at the corridor’s eastern end, has long been seen as a place of transit and military node, but currently receives more (inter)national attention as anticipated development axis and future gateway to Myanmar. Myanmar and Thailand are currently negotiating their longstanding separations and border demarcations in order to promote bilateral exchange and a better ASEAN-connectivity. Plans focus on cross-border trade and logistics and the improvement of technical infrastructure to enable future transformations. Against this background, the main research questions of my project deal with transregional and transnational transformation processes, cross-border effects, and the drivers of change, their development alliances, motives and agendas along the anticipated corridor.  

With the help of the GSGS Fellowship, I was able to finalise the work on an application to the DFG, which was submitted afterwards in order to fund my PhD project in the long term. During the writing process I worked closely with my supervising Professor, received input from my working group and therefore gained important scientific experience.

Furthermore, I worked on my first publication to a peer reviewed journal on transformative development in the Greater Myeik Area. With the aim to shift the development-oriented research focus in Myanmar beyond cities and megacities towards regional towns and their hinterlands, it focuses on the economic, socio-cultural and environmental potentials as development drivers and the connection between the urban, peri-urban and rural parts of the Greater Myeik Area. The final draft has been discussed with my second supervisor and is currently under review in the working group.

In the last weeks of the funding period, I was able to join a two days GSGS training on publishing and peer reviews, and started with the first preparations of a second publication. I reviewed journals and issues, narrowed the content and possible subject areas and prepared first drafts and illustrations. After the end of the financing period, the work on the publication will expectedly continue until December 2019.  
I am very glad to share my experiences within the community of GSGS members and beyond, and will be available to provide necessary information, answer questions and support future applicants to receive funding from the GSGS, as well. 

Sarah Luft
PhD student
Institute of Geography
Professor Dr. Frauke Kraas (working group)
PhD project: “New Connectivity in Asia: Pioneering border corridors and transnational transformation processes in the Greater Myeik Area/Myanmar and Prachuap Khiri Khan/Thailand.” (working title)