In this episode, Ben Habib is joined by Dr Markus Bell, Research Fellow at La Trobe University in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy, migration and displacement researcher and freelance journalist. We explore Markus’ new book “Outsiders: Memories of migration to and from North Korea”, published by Berghahn Books. We also discuss Markus’ career journey in and out of academia, his observations on labour migration and climate vulnerability in Southeast Asia, COVID and the coup in Myanmar, and the physical and mental health benefits of Markus’ martial arts practice.
00:03:02 How Markus found anthropology and migration studies.
00:06:12 How life experiences influence what discipline academics end up specialising in.
00:07:51 Moving in and out of academia.
00:12:09 The inaccesability of academic writing.
00:17:33 Perversities and banalities of academic publishing under managerialism.
00:20:55 Importance of peer review to the knowledge ecosystem.
00:21:43 Is a lot of security-focused research on North Korea “repetitive bollocks”?
00:29:00 Markus’ new book… Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea.
00:35:49 Burden of obligation from the unrepayable gift of freedom for North Korean returnees to Japan.
00:38:57 Life for North Koreans-in-exile is difficult wherever they are.
00:45:21 Gendered differences in survival adaptations for Zainichi Korean returnees from North Korea to Japan.
00:49:56 Ethics of building a career researching vulnerable people.
00:52:03 Commodification of North Korean defector testimony.
00:56:23 Fitting North Korean refugee experiences into a redemption narrative.
00:56:49 Ethical obligations of researchers when North Korea refugees “lend” their stories.
00:59:45 Markus’ freelance journalism in Myanmar on fighting and food.
01:02:11 Working with climate change-vulnerable communities near the Myanmar-Thailand border.
01:03:43 Working on labour migration in Myanmar and Southeast Asia.
01:05:04 The COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar.
01:09:26 February 2021 military coup d’état in Myanmar.
01:11:46 No pressure for restoring democracy in Myanmar from ASEAN.
01:12:24 Has Myanmar’s grassroots political culture changed after a decade of democratisation.
01:15:38 Mental, physical and social benefits of Southeast Asian martial arts practice.
- Bell, M. (2021) Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.
- Bell, M. (2019) “What it’s really like to drive for Grab in Myanmar“. Myanmar Times. 27 December 2019.
- Bell, M. (2019) “Portraits of Yangon“. Myanmar Times. 01 November 2019.
- Bell, M. (2016) “Curry’s Great Transnational Journey from India to Japan and North Korea“. Food Anthropology. 07 April 2016.
About Markus Bell
Researcher, writer, analyst and migration policy specialist with over ten years of experience in the fields of forced migration & displacement, labour migration, and ethnic minority affairs focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. Published author (book coming out in October: Outsiders: Memories of Migration to and from North Korea) and writer for online outlets such as The Guardian, The Independent, The Conversation, Foreign Policy in Focus, National Public Radio (NPR), and The Diplomat. Often called on for expert opinion by Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, The LA Times, the South China Morning Post, and the Christian Science Monitor.
About Ben Habib, host of Edge Dwellers Cafe
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