Assistant Professor
PhD (University of Edinburgh)

Room: FASS 2.36


Links: Google Scholar citations


Dr. Lisa Arensen is Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia.

She is a social anthropologist and her research focuses on communities that have experienced environmental change, war, and displacement. Her particular expertise is in Cambodia, where she has worked and done research for nearly two decades.

Dr. Arensen’s work explores issues of vulnerability and resilience in social, cosmological, and biophysical terms, especially as regards community dynamics and complex and shifting relationships with natural and sacred landscapes.

Her current research focuses upon communities dwelling in protected areas. Current projects include changes and continuity in traditional botanical medicine use and the role of animism in agricultural and development practices.

Dr. Arensen is also engaged in documenting histories of environmental change in protected areas in highland and lowland Cambodia, with indigenous Bunong communities and the Khmer ethnic majority.

Research Interests

     • Environmental, cosmological and social change in indigenous communities
     • Traditional ecological knowledge
     • Globalization, social justice and cultural change
     • Post-conflict recovery and resilience
     • Human trafficking and migration

Select Publications

Journal Articles

Lisa Arensen (2021). Province of Thieves: On Violence, Reflexivity and The Cross‐Cultural Encounter. Anthropology and Humanism, (Early View). []

Lisa Arensen  (2021). Living with Landmines: inhabiting a war-altered landscape. Journal of Material Culture, (Early View): 1-16. []

Lisa Arensen (2020). The Things that Remain: encountering ruination and remnants in a post-conflict landscape in Western Cambodia. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 21, Issue 3: 264-279. []

Lisa Arensen (2017). The Dead in the Land: bodies, bones and ghosts in northwestern Cambodia. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 76, Issue 1: 69-86. []

Lisa Arensen (2016). ‘All Newcomers Now’: narrating social and material aspects of post-war resettlement in northwest Cambodia. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 47, Issue 1: 24-41. []

Lisa Arensen (2012). Displacement, Diminishment, and Ongoing Presence: the state of local cosmologies in northwest Cambodia in the aftermath of war. Asian Ethnology, Vol. 71, Issue 2: 159-178. [Access]

Book Reviews

Lisa Arensen (2021). Review of Courtney Work, Tides of empire: religion, development, and environment in Cambodia by Courtney Work. Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 10, No. 2: 313-316. []

Lisa Arensen (2019). Review of Nancy J. Jacobs, Birders of Africa: history of a network. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 89, Issue 1: 191-193.


Seminar on the Bombing of the Kulen Plateau in Cambodia

The Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (IAS @ UBD) recently held a seminar on “When the Bombs Fell: An Analysis of Incidents on the Kulen Plateau during the Nixon Administration’s Bombing of Cambodia” by Assistant Professor Lisa Joy Arensen of IAS. For more information about the seminar, please see the flyer below.

Read More

Working Paper on Ethnographic Research on Religion in Cambodia

The Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam is pleased to announce the publication of IAS Working Paper No 72: Speaking for the Spirits: A Reflection on Knowledge, Expertise, and Methodology in Ethnographic Fieldwork on Religion by Lisa Arensen. Please see below for details. Download the Working Paper Abstract: Our ways of representing the […]

Read More

Arensen on Inhabiting a War-Altered Landscape in Cambodia

The Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam is pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Lisa Arensen has recently published a paper entitled “Living with Landmines: Inhabiting a War-Altered Landscape.” Published in Material Culture, this article examines the efforts of the inhabitants of Reakshmei Songha village in western Cambodia to live in an environment […]

Read More

Lisa Arensen Wins Anthropology Award

Dr. Lisa Arensen, Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia at the Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, has been awarded First Prize in the 2021 Creative Ethnographic Prose Writing Competition, sponsored by the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. An experiment in reflexive writing about development work in Cambodia, Dr. Arensen’s […]

Read More

Lisa Arensen on Post-conflict Landscapes and Protected Areas in Cambodia

The Institute of Asian Studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (IAS @ UBD) is pleased to share a video interview with Dr. Lisa Arensen of IAS on post-conflict landscapes and protected areas in Cambodia. For more on Dr. Arensen, please visit her IAS staff page: Articles mentioned in the video: Lisa Arensen (2016). ‘All Newcomers Now’: Narrating Social and […]

Read More