I am an assistant professor in the Geography Department and School of Modern Languages & Cultures (China Studies Programme) at the University of Hong Kong. As a political geographer with geospatial skills, I’m interested in transportation infrastructure and natural resource development in northern frontiers, namely the Arctic, Russian Far East, and along the more remote corridors of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In these areas, by combining fieldwork and remote sensing, I look at how local and Indigenous actors leverage geopolitical transformations to direct development into their regions and with what consequences for livelihoods and landscapes.
I’ve done fieldwork on bridges both real and imagined in the Russian Far East, on a new highway to the Arctic Ocean in Canada’s Northwest Territories, atop the melting Greenland Ice Sheet, and inside air-conditioned offices in Singapore.
My research has been supported by generous grants from the Regional Studies Association, National Science Foundation, International Council for Canadian Studies, the UCLA College of Social Sciences, American Geophysical Union’s Cryosphere Focus Group, the UCLA Canadian Studies Program, and the UCLA Urban Humanities Institute. I also collaborate with the Configurations of Remoteness (CORE) project at the University of Vienna.
I received a PhD in Geography from UCLA, where I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. I also participated in the NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide program at the University of Vienna. Prior to that, I obtained an MPhil in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute with the support of a Gates Scholarship.
My academic publications are listed in Google Scholar and are available to read on academia.edu and ResearchGate. I post occasional 140-character thoughts on Twitter, square-sized photographs on Instagram, and updates on Facebook. Email me at mbennett at hku dot hk or send a message using the form below, and I’ll respond to you in English, Russian, French, or Swedish.