Tomas Cole
Tomas Cole

Telephone: +46 (0)8 16 22 40
Room: B614

Tomas Cole joined the Department of Social Anthropology in September 2015. Prior to coming to Stockholm he received his MSc in anthropology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014 with the thesis: In God’s Hands – Living with Disability and Dependency Among Karens residing in a Refugee Camp in Thailand. This thesis explored the lived experiences of armed conflict in the Thai-Myanmar borderlands and the contradictions between ideals of care and independence among disabled ex-soldiers of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) from Southeast Myanmar who were living as refugees in Thailand.

He also holds an MPhil in Psychology from NTNU in Trondheim, Norway where he wrote about the phenomenology of autism.


The Owners of the Earth: Spectral Sovereignty and Seditious Conservation in Southeast Myanmar (working title)

His current research has taken him across the border to the de-facto autonomous zone of Kawthoolei, at the frayed edges of Southeast Myanmar, which has been caught up in 70 years of protracted armed conflict for self-determination. In this project, tentatively named The Owners of the Earth: Spectral Sovereignty and Seditious Conservation in Southeast Myanmar, he follows local environmental activists’ efforts to transform these (former) warzones into an indigenously managed conservation area dubbed The Salween Peace Park. This place is envisioned to act as a zone for “all living things sharing peace”. By exploring the uneven entanglements and ruptures between local cosmologies of ownership, power, ecology and temporality, and those of indigenous activists and state actors he hopes to unsettle some common conceptions of how sovereignty, hierarchy, conservation and peacebuilding is and can be practiced in Myanmar and beyond.      



  • Migration, Culture and Diversity (2015)
  • Economy: Value, Resources and the Environment (2016)
  • BA Thesis (2018)

Conferences and workshops


  • Paper ‘Spectral Landscapes: Domesticating the ghosts of colonialism, conflict, and climate change’ presented at EASA 2018 at Stockholm University 14-17 August.  
  • Paper ‘The owners of the Earth: Nested Regimes of Ownership and Spectral Sovereignty in Myanmar’s Highlands’ presented at the workshop Everyday Justice and Security in Myanmar at DIIS in Copenhagen 21-23 May, and at the Oxford Graduate Workshop, New Directions in Research on Myanmar at Oxford University 13-14 June.
  • Paper ‘Fractal Borderlands: Nested Regimes of Ownership and Spectral Sovereignty in the Highlands of Burma’ presented at the Asian Borderlands Workshop at the University of Tallinn, 2-3 May.
  • Co-organiser of a Panel entitled ‘Contested Vulnerabilities’ and presentation of paper, ‘The Teak Curtain and Peace Park: The Production, Mobilisation & Contesting of Ecological and Ontological Vulnerability Along the Salween River Basin’ at SANT 2018: Vulnerabilities at Uppsala University, 19-21 April.    


  • Paper ‘Spectral governance: Anarchy, Affect and Spectres in the "Kaw" Governance systems of the Salween Peace Park, Northern Karen State’ presented at the University of Yangon 16 September, and at Chiang Mai University 20 September.


  • Paper “Anade(Power-Hurt): The Pains of Kindness” presented at the workshop Care and Control in Asia organised by Stockholm University 26-27 May and at Goldsmiths, University of London 4 November.


  • Panel presentation on “The Translocal Spaces of Migration” at the workshop Migration, Security and Development in Southeast Asia organised by Asian Dynamics Initiative in Helsinki, Finland 23-24 October.