Dr Ronan Lee

Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow

Dr Ronan Lee

Ronan Lee is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at Loughborough University London where his work focusses on Asian politics, the Rohingya, Myanmar, genocide, hate speech and migration.

Dr Lee’s book “Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide: Identity, History and Hate Speech” was published by Bloomsbury in 2021 and he was awarded the 2021 Early Career Emerging Scholar Prize by the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He serves as an Executive Committee member of the Association of Southeast Asian Studies.

Ronan has a professional background in politics, media, and public policy. He was formerly a Queensland State Member of Parliament (2001-2009) and served on the frontbench as a Parliamentary Secretary (2006-2008) in portfolios including Justice, Main Roads and Local Government. He has also worked as a senior government advisor, and as an election strategist and campaign manager.

Ronan regularly provides briefings about contemporary Myanmar and Southeast Asian politics to diplomats, United Nations agencies and international non-government organisations. He has been engaged as an Expert Witness, and provided television drama script advice for the BBC. Ronan’s work regularly features in international media. He has provided political commentary for the BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, Australia’s ABC, Associated Press, Monocle Radio, France 24, Australia’s SBS, Times Radio, LBC Radio and South Korea’s Arirang TV. Ronan’s work has appeared in the Irish Times, The Economist, Newsweek, The Guardian, South China Morning Post, Asia Times, Radio Free Asia, The Wire, Scroll.In, New Straits Times, Myanmar Times, Dhaka Tribune and The Conversation. 

See Ronan Lee on X (previously Twitter)

Academic background

Dr Lee has a Bachelor of Arts (Government) from the University of Queensland, and a Master of International Relations from Monash University. Ronan’s PhD is from Melbourne’s Deakin University where he was awarded the Neil Archbold Memorial Medal in 2015 for his article “A Politician, Not an Icon: Aung San Suu Kyi's Silence on Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya” published in Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations.

His doctoral research involved conducting long-term field work in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand during 2014-2017. This work aimed to amplify the voice of Rohingya participants and involved in-depth interviews with Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in Yangon, in the Bangladesh refugee camps, and among the Rohingya diaspora living further afield from Myanmar. 

Ronan is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Royal Historical Society.

Since 2022, Ronan has been a faculty member of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s annual Seminar XXI programme lecturing about the weaponization of culture and history in Myanmar, and the use and misuse of history within Myanmar. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Law, and taught in courses and delivered lectures including for Koç University (Turkey), Georgetown University (USA), Oberlin College (USA), SOAS, University of Edinburgh, University of the Arts London, and Yangon University (Myanmar).

Areas of research expertise:

  • Rohingya
  • Myanmar
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • ASEAN/Southeast Asia
  • Genocide
  • Resistance to Genocide
  • Political Violence
  • Hate Speech
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Asia
  • Forced Migration
  • Climate Change and Migration
  • Researcher Vicarious Trauma
  • Research Ethics

Current research and collaborations

"Surviving Genocide: Rohingya Refugees’ Priorities for a Post-Genocide Future" is Ronan’s Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship project. This research is largely situated in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh adjacent to the Myanmar frontier and involves in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys, discourse analysis and observation to map Rohingya attitudes towards education, marriage, work, language, justice, religion, migration, repatriation and politics. 

“Rohingya Futures” is a knowledge exchange project initiated by Ronan and the Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh to co-produce books of poetry and creative writing by Rohingya authors. 

“The ethics of research in South and Southeast Asian borderlands” is a multidisciplinary project co-ordinated by Ronan, Dr Rudabeh Shahid (Oberlin College, USA) and Dr Debojyoti Das (University of the Arts London) to highlight ethical aspects of research work undertaken by early career scholars. 

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