Daniel B. Ahlquist



Room N352 Case Hall
842 Chestnut Rd
East Lansing, MI 48825

FacultyAmerican Indian and Indigenous Studies

Affiliate Faculty


Ph.D., Cornell University, Development Sociology

Professor Ahlquist’s teaching and research explore diverse human relationships to place. He examines the political-ecological dimensions of landscapes and land use, from agriculture to conservation, as well as displacement, climate change, settler colonialism and environmental justice. He is particularly interested in how inequalities between individuals and social groups play out through uneven relationships to the environment, state and market.

A development sociologist by training, Professor Ahlquist values interdisciplinarity and prioritizes collaboration with students, colleagues across disciplines and national borders, and partners beyond academia. For over a decade, he has worked in and with Indigenous highland communities in northern Thailand, where he examines the intersections of state forest conservation, development, agrarian change, land rights and changing forms of inequality.

He is also a core member of the Henry Luce Foundation-funded Mekong Culture WELL (Water, Environments, Land Use and Livelihoods) project team, which studies the effects of dam development and climate change on landscapes and communities in the Lower Mekong River Basin.

His newest research project focuses on the political ecology of rewilding on the northern Great Plains of the United States.

JMC Field Affiliations: Social Relations & Policy Humanities, Culture & Writing

Additional MSU Affiliations: Science, Technology, Environment & Public Policy (STEPP) Asian Studies Peace & Justice Studies

Major Grants:
Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA). Project Title: “Mekong Culture WELL (Water Environment, Livelihoods & Land Use).” Award Amount: $1 million. Team: Flaim, Ahlquist, Kramer, Pokhrel, Chandra, Fink, McGlaughlin.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Earth Science Division, Land Cover/Land Use Change (LCLUC) Program. Project Title: “Assessing the impacts of dams on the dynamic interactions among distant wetlands, land use, and rural communities in the Lower Mekong River Basin.” Award Amount: $707,893.33. Team: Qi, Kramer, Ahlquist, McConnell, Hyndman, Pokhrel

Awards and Honors


MC-111: Identity & Community: An Approach to Writing

MC-202: Introduction to Public Affairs (Research Seminar)

MC-338: Environmental Justice & Global Change

MC-380: Social Policy

MC-498: Senior Seminar in Social Relations & Policy


Dang, Huy, Yadu Pokhrel, Sanghoon Shin, Jac Stelly, Daniel Ahlquist and Duong Du Bui (2022). “Hydrologic balance and inundation dynamics of Southeast Asia’s largest inland lake altered by hydropower dams in the Mekong River basin.” Science of the Total Environment 831: 154833. (Link to article) 

Flaim, Amanda, David Feingold, Daniel B. Ahlquist, Stephanie Koning, Peerayot Sidonrusmee, Laura Rozek & Wisa Wisesjindawat-Fink. (2021). “The UNESCO Highland Peoples Surveys: Tracing inequalities in health care access & provision in northern Thailand.” Journal of Health Sciences & Alternative Medicine 3(2): 30-42. (Link to article)

Flaim, Amanda, Lindy Williams & Daniel B. Ahlquist. (2020). “Undermining Benefits & Exacerbating Burdens: How Statelessness Impacts Left-Behind Elderly in the Context of Out-migration from the Highlands of Thailand.” Social Forces 99(1): 333-365. (Link to article)

Ahlquist, Daniel B. & Leo A. Baldiga. (2019). “Climate Change & Human Migration: Constructed Vulnerability, Uneven Flows, and the Challenges of Studying Environmental Migration in the 21st Century.” Pp. 119-131 in the Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies (S. Nawyn & S. Gold, Eds.). New York: Routledge.  (Link to volume)

Intralawan, A., A. Smajgl, W. McConnell, D. B. Ahlquist, J. Ward & D. Kramer. (2019). “Reviewing Benefits and Costs of Hydropower Development: Evidence from the Lower Mekong River Basin.” WIRES Water. April 2019: e1347. (Link to article)

Ahlquist, Daniel B. & Amanda Flaim. (2018). “Racialization and the Historical Production of Contemporary Land Rights Inequalities in Upland Northern Thailand.” In Race & Rurality in the Global Economy (M. Crichlow, Ed.)Albany, NY: Fernand Braudel Center Studies in Historical Social Science/SUNY Press. (Link to volume)