Åshild Kolås

Research Professor

Åshild Kolås
Email: ashild@prio.org
Work phone: +47 22 54 77 68
Twitter: @AshildKolas

Research Interests

Currently working on identity politics and representation, gender, peacebuilding and conflict management, insurgencies and ethnic movements, governance and sovereignty contestations.   


Bio:  Åshild Kolås is a social anthropologist and Research Professor at PRIO. She was the head of PRIOs Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Program from 2005 to 2011. Her core research interests are ethnicity, identity politics and peacebuilding. She has conducted long-term fieldwork in multi-ethnic communities in India and China, and has written on Tibet, Nepal, Inner Mongolia and Northeast India with a focus on governance and governmentality, identity politics, discourse and representation. Her latest books are Basque Nationhood. Towards a Democratic Scenario (Peter Lang, 2016, co-edited with Pedro Ibarra Güell) and Reclaiming the Forest. The Ewenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya (Berghahn, 2015, co-edited with Yuanyuan Xie). She is also the author of Tourism and Tibetan Culture in Transition. A Place Called Shangrila (Routledge, 2008) and On the Margins of Tibet: Cultural Survival on the Sino-Tibetan Frontier (University of Washington Press, 2005; 2015, with Monika P. Thowsen). Since 2006, Åshild Kolås has coordinated an institutional cooperation between PRIO and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi. Her current research is on gender, peacebuilding and conflict management in Northeast India and Myanmar. She is a member of the editorial board of Alternatives: Global, Local, Political.


PRIO started tracking events online in 2007. This listing is not complete. Past events may be mentioned in our news archive.

Recent Publications

Kolås, Åshild (ed.) (2017) Women, Peace and Security in Northeast India. New Delhi: Zubaan Books.
Kolås, Åshild (2017) How critical is the event? Multicultural Norway after 22 July 2011, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 23(2): 1–15.
Kolås, Åshild (2017) Truth and Indigenous Cosmopolitics in Shangrila, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 18(1): 1–20.
Kolås, Åshild (2017) Sovereignty™, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

All Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Kolås, Åshild (2017) How critical is the event? Multicultural Norway after 22 July 2011, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture 23(2): 1–15.
Kolås, Åshild (2017) Truth and Indigenous Cosmopolitics in Shangrila, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 18(1): 1–20.
Fangen , Katrine & Åshild Kolås (2016) The “Syria traveller”: Reintegration or legal sanctioning?, Critical Studies on Terrorism 9(3): 414–432.
Kolås, Åshild (2015) Framing the tribal: Ethnic violence in Northeast India, Asian Ethnicity 18(1): 22–37.
Kolås, Åshild (2014) Mothers and Activists in the Hills of Assam, Economic and Political Weekly 49(43): 41–48.
Kolås, Åshild (2014) Degradation Discourse and Green Governmentality in the Xilinguole Grasslands of Inner Mongolia, Development and Change 45(2): 308–328.
Kolås, Åshild (2013) Indigenous Rights, Sovereignty and Resource Governance in the Arctic, Strategic Analysis 37(4): 499–504.
Kolås, Åshild (2011) Naga Militancy and Violent Politics in the Shadow of Ceasefire, Journal of Peace Research 48(6): 781–792.
Kolås, Åshild (2011) Reclaiming the Forest: Ewenki Reindeer Herding as Exception, Human Organization 70(4): 397–404.
Miklian, Jason; Kristoffer Lidén & Åshild Kolås (2011) The Perils of ‘Going Local’: Liberal Peace-building Agendas in Nepal, Conflict, Security & Development 11(3): 285–308.
Kolås, Åshild (2011) GAVI and Hepatitis B Immunisation in India, Global Public Health 6(1): 28–40.
Xie, Yuanyuan & Åshild Kolås (2010) Jin sanshi nian lai nuowei sami ren shenfen diwei de bianhua [Changes in the status of Norwegian Sami identity in the past thirty years], Shijie Minzu [World Ethno-National Studies] 2010(3): 81–90.
Kolås, Åshild (2010) The 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks: (Re-)Constructing Indian (Counter-)Terrorism, Critical Studies on Terrorism 3(1): 83–98.
Kolås, Åshild & Jason Miklian (2009) Managing Intractable Conflict: Indian Strategies, Journal of Conflict Management and Development 3(3): 1–20.
Kolås, Åshild (2007) Burma in the Balance: The Geopolitics of Gas, Strategic Analysis 31(4): 625–643.
Kolås, Åshild (2004) Tourism and the Making of Place in Shangri-La , Tourism Geographies 6(3): 262–279.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) "Class" in Tibet: Creating Social Order Before and During the Mao Era, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 10(2): 181–200.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) Modernising Tibet: Contemporary Discourses and Practices of “Modernity', Inner Asia 5: 17–37.
Kolås, Åshild (1996) Tibetan Nationalism: The Politics of Religion , Journal of Peace Research 33(1): 51–66.

PhD Thesis

Kolås, Åshild (2004) Ethnic tourism in Shangrila. Representations of place and Tibetan identity. PhD thesis, Supervisors: Thomas Hylland Eriksen, UiO; Stein Tønnesson, PRIO (completed August 2004), .


Kolås, Åshild (2008) Tourism and Tibetan Culture in Transition. A Place Called Shangrila. : Routledge. .
Kolås, Åshild & Monika Thowsen (2005) On the Margins of Tibet: Cultural Survival on the Sino-Tibetan Frontier. Seattle: University of Washington Press: University of Washington Press.

Book Chapter

Kolås, Åshild (2016) Sovereignty at the Frontiers: Contests and Contradictions, in Dilip Gogoi, ed., Unheeded Hinterland: Identity and Sovereignty In Northeast India. New Delhi: Routledge India (17–29).
Kolås, Åshild (2015) Introduction. Writing the “Reindeer Ewenki”, in Reclaiming the Forest. the Ewenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya. Oxford: Berghahn (1–17).
Kolås, Åshild (2015) Ambiguities of the Aoluguya Ewenki, in Reclaiming the Forest. the Ewenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya. Oxford: Berghahn (61–76).
Kolås, Åshild (2014) Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding: Ideas, Approaches and Debates , in Upadhyaya, Priyankar; & Samrat Schmiem Kumar, eds, Peace and Conflict - the South Asian Experience. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press India (1–22).
Kolås, Åshild & Jason Miklian (2013) Facing the future: Responding to human security in India, in Miklian, Jason; & Åshild Kolås, eds, India's Human Security: Lost Debates, Forgotten People, Intractable Challenges. London: Routledge (227–235).
Kolås, Åshild & Jason Miklian (2013) Introduction, in Miklian, Jason; & Åshild Kolås, eds, India's Human Security: Lost Debates, Forgotten People, Intractable Challenges. London: Routledge (1–12).
Kolås, Åshild & Camilla Buzzi (2010) Northeast India and Myanmar: Looking East towards a Dead-End?, in Beyond Borders. Look East Policy & Northeast India. Guwahati: (148–165).
Kolås, Åshild & Monika Thowsen (2003) Dilemmas of Education in Tibetan Areas Outside the TAR, in China at the Turn of the 21st Century. Stockholm: Nordic Association for China Studies (131–148).

Edited Volume

Kolås, Åshild (ed.) (2017) Women, Peace and Security in Northeast India. New Delhi: Zubaan Books.
Ibarra Güell, Pedro; & Åshild Kolås, eds, (2016) Basque Nationhood: Towards a Democratic Scenario. Oxford: Peter Lang. Nationalisms Across the Globe.
Kolås, Åshild; & Yuanyuan Xie, eds, (2015) Reclaiming the Forest. The Ewenki Reindeer Herders of Aoluguya. Oxford: Berghahn.
Kolås, Åshild; & Zha Luo, eds, (2013) Pastoralism in Contemporary China: Policy and Practice. Beijing: Social Science Academic Press.
Miklian, Jason; & Åshild Kolås, eds, (2013) India's Human Security: Lost Debates, Forgotten People, Intractable Challenges. London: Routledge. Routledge Studies in South Asian Politics.

Non-refereed Journal Article

Kolås, Åshild (2012) What's up with the territorial council?, Seminar New Delhi: a Monthly Symposium(640): 2–7.
Kolås, Åshild & Camilla Buzzi (2010) India-Burma Relations Hitting a Dead End?, The Irrawaddy 18(3).
Kolås, Åshild (2010) Theories of Conflict Resolution: Lessons for Northeast India?, Politeia: Annual Journal of North-East India Political Science Association 2009(1): 32–53.
Kolås, Åshild (2007) China in African Oil: Guilty as Charged?, EPS Quarterly 20(2): 6–8.
Kolås, Åshild (2005) Militant islamisme og 'legitim' vold [Militant Islamism and 'Legitimate' Violence], Babylon. Tidsskrift om Midtøsten og Nord-Afrika 3(2): 24–31.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) Vill Vest i Kina [China's Wild West], Verdensmagasinet X 12(5): 24–25.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) Teaching Tibetan in Tibet: Bilingual Education is Survival, Cultural Survival Quarterly 27(3): 67–71.
Kolås, Åshild (1998) Chinese Media Discources on Tibet: The Language of Inequality, Tibet Journal 23(3): 70–77.

Popular Article

Kolås, Åshild & Camilla Buzzi (2009) Suverenitetens grenser [The Limits of Sovereignty], Ny Tid, 17–23 April 2009.
Kolås, Åshild (2009) Veien etter Indias 9/11 [In the Aftermath of India's 9/11 ], Ny Tid, 6–12 March.

PRIO Report

Hoelscher, Kristian; Katherine Edelen; Jason Miklian; Silje Holen; Joyeeta Bhattacharjee; Line Barkved; Farzana Jahan; Hari Bansh Jha; & Åshild Kolås (2013) Water Scarcity in Bangladesh. Transboundary Rivers, Conflict and Cooperation, PRIO Report, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

Conference Paper

Kolås, Åshild (2015) Sovereignty revisited: The Basque case, presented at International Workshop on ‘A Multidisciplinary Approach to Processes of Sovereignty Construction: The Basque Case’, Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law (IISL), 14–15 May 2015.
Shrestha, Gitta; Åshild Kolås & Bishnu Raj Upreti (2013) Making Women Count for Peace: Gender, Empowerment and Conflict in Nepal, presented at the conference on ‘The Gender Dimensions of Armed Violence’, The Graduate Institute, Geneva, 25 February 2013.
Kolås, Åshild (2012) (De)constructing the Non-State Army: Making Sense of Insurgency in Northeast India, presented at European Association of Social Anthropologists EASA 2012: Uncertainty and disquiet, Nanterre, France, 10–13 July.
Kolås, Åshild 2011 Constructing the Non-State Army: Making Sense of Armed Conflict in Northeast India, presented at The Local in Global Understandings of War and Peacemaking: Anthropological and Inter-disciplinary Perspectives, , 1–2 September.
Kolås, Åshild 2009 Lost in a State of Exceptions: Ewenki Reindeer Herders in China, presented at Annual conference of the Norwegian Association for Development Research, , 24 November.
Kolås, Åshild; & Buzzi, Camilla 2008 Northeast India and Myanmar: Looking East towards a Dead-End?, presented at Borders and Beyond: The Northeast in India’s Security and Foreign Policy, , 21 February.
Kolås, Åshild 2008 Hill-valley Dynamics in Northeast India: A Research Agenda, presented at Asian Borderlands Research Network International Conference on Northeast India and its Transnational Neighbourhood, , 18 January.
Kolås, Åshild (2005) Different Cultures, Different Rights: Approaches to Culture in a Minority Rights Framework, presented at Cultural and Minority Rights, EU Research Training Network on Applied Global Justice, Oxford, 3–5 June.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) ”Welcome to Shangri-La”: The making of place in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, presented at Tenth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS X), Aris Trust Centre, Oxford University, 6–12 September.
Kolås, Åshild (2003) Ethnic Tourism in China: Renegotiating the Meanings of "Minzu", presented at the Nordic Conference on China Studies, Association for China Studies, University of Oslo, 19 June.

PRIO Policy Brief

Kolås, Åshild (2017) Sovereignty™, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.
Upreti, Bishnu Raj & Åshild Kolås (2016) Women in Nepal’s Transition, PRIO Policy Brief, 11. Oslo: PRIO.
Kolås, Åshild (2015) Women's Empowerment in India: From participation to political agency, PRIO Policy Brief, 6. Oslo: PRIO.

Report - Other

Kolås, Åshild; & Legia Lyngdoh (2012) Gender, Empowerment and Conflict: Experiences from Northeast India, Workshop on Gender, Empowerment and Conflict. Oslo: PRIO.
Kolås, Åshild; & Stein Tønnesson (2006) Burma and Its Neighbours: The Geopolitics of Gas, Austral Policy Forum. Melbourne.
Tønnesson, Stein; & Åshild Kolås (2006) Energy Security in Asia: China, India, Oil and Peace, Report to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Oslo: PRIO.

Book Review

Kolås, Åshild (2015) Review of The Arctic Contested, in International Affairs 91(2): 423–424.
Kolås, Åshild (2008) Review of The Violence of Liberation: Gender and Tibetan Buddhist Revival in Post-Mao China, in Asian Studies Review 32(2008): 537–539.

Blog Posts

Digital India: Less Cash, but not Cashless

Posted by Åshild Kolås & Elida Kristine Undrum Jacobsen on Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The past month has seen historic events in India. On Tuesday 8 November 2016, the Modi government announced without prior warning that all 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes would be rendered valueless more or less overnight. In effect, this meant immediate withdrawal of the largest bank notes in circulation, and issuance of new notes within a few days, renewing 86 percent of India’s cash economy. Is this another step towards a cashless economy? What has the cash withdrawal done to the black economy, and networks based on corruption? And what are the implications for the use of cash, especially ...

India’s Membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime

Posted by Rajiv Nayan & Åshild Kolås on Thursday, 18 August 2016

India became the 35th member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on 27 June 2016. The MTCR is an informal and voluntary association of suppliers of ballistic and cruise missiles capable of delivering Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and other unmanned aerial vehicles. It was established in 1987 with merely seven countries. Though the MTCR does not force any of its members to take ‘legally binding obligations’, in reality, members normally incorporate decisions taken in the informal body. During the Cold War, as more countries joined the MTCR, there were frequent struggles among its members over harmonization. In 1992, ...

Peace is a Process

Posted by Åshild Kolås & Priyankar Upadhyaya on Wednesday, 29 June 2016

On 21 June 2016, UNESCO hosted a path-breaking Consultative Meeting on the contribution of the UN system to the promotion of peace. The meeting was attended by heads of 28 United Nations entities (programmes, funds, specialized agencies and bodies), who discussed the advancement of the global peace agenda and took stock of the present situation – and the future of the agenda in the new millennium. PRIO Visiting Fellow Priyankar Upadhyaya (UNESCO Chair for Peace and Professor of Peace Research at Banaras Hindu University) is a member of the Steering Committee of this ambitious project, and is likely to lead ...

The Right to Decide: Exit and Basque Self-Determination

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Five years ago, the Basque militant group ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) announced a unilateral and permanent cessation of operations. Since then, the disappearance of political violence has given rise to a new debate on Basque nationhood: more inclusive, more open, more civic, and at the same time stronger in its affirmation of the legitimacy of popular sovereignty and the democratic demand to exercise ‘the right to decide’, as against the earlier radicalism of immediate independence. A new book edited by Pedro Ibarra Güell and Åshild Kolås, Basque Nationhood Towards a Democratic Scenario, takes stock of the contemporary re-imagining of ...

Syria Travellers and Security Threats

Posted by Åshild Kolås & Katrine Fangen on Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Foreign fighters returning from Syria have emerged as a looming security threat in many European countries, so also in Norway. As well as preventive measures against radicalization and mobilization by the Islamic State, there have been calls for the withdrawal of citizenship and deportation of returned foreign fighters. This raises a number of questions. Are Norwegians more secure if we send potential terrorists out of the country? Is this even feasible, if Norway wants to stay within the ‘border-free’ Europe? What are the trade-offs between security and civil rights to citizenship, and how can they best be balanced? Is citizenship essentially something that needs to be earned, or is ...

The ‘Sovereign’ according to Ola Tunander

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Monday, 30 May 2016

On Friday 27 May 2016, PRIO celebrated Ola Tunander’s 30-year academic career with a seminar on ‘Sovereignty, Subs and PSYOPS’, and a reception. The celebration was, of course, focused on Ola and his work, spanning topics from the geopolitics and organic state theory of Rudolf Kjellén to the 27 October 1981 ‘Whiskey on the Rocks’ submarine crash in the Swedish Archipelago. Obviously, sovereignty was a key topic of the seminar, and is arguably also the critical theme of Ola’s work. As a digital footnote to the seminar, and a distillation of the ‘sovereign’ according to Ola Tunander, here are some ...

Women’s Empowerment in India

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Monday, 11 May 2015

From participation to political agency Women’s empowerment and equal participation in political life is important at all levels of Indian society. Despite benefitting from reservations, women frequently experience obstacles when they participate in politics. However, to address women’s aspirations for political agency we should explore the emerging opportunities, and not only the challenges. We should also keep in mind that there are multiple aspects of identity, and huge differences in the economic and political status of women, within India as in the rest of the world. ‘Women’ is not a homogenous category that can be defined merely by the need ...

Earthquake in Nepal and we are Safe

Posted by Åshild Kolås on Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Peace researchers often have the opportunity to witness the ‘real world’ of conflict and post-conflict during fieldwork in countries such as Nepal. In some cases we also cooperate with local institutions where we benefit from working with fellow peace researchers and other partners. In Nepal we have had the great pleasure of working with Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti, director of the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR) on a collaborative project called Making Women Count for Peace. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and its surrounding areas on Saturday, our first thoughts naturally went to Bishnu, his colleagues ...

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