Karin Dean (PhD) lived and worked in China in 1995–1996, in 1996–2007 she lived in Thailand (while being a PhD student at Geography Department of University of Singapore in 1999–2003), and from 2007 onwards periodically in Vietnam; since 2007 she has been teaching and conducting research at Tallinn University. The entire body of Karin’s research, starting from her doctoral dissertation, is underpinned by ethnographic field work, mainly among cross-border ethnic minorities of Myanmar (Burma), in Myanmar, China and Thailand. In 2002–2006 she acted as a mediator between Myanmar’s armed ethnic opposition groups and the Geneva-based organisation The Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and partly the UN Special Envoy to Burma Razali Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.
As a political geographer she is interested in and is continuously monitoring political developments in Southeast Asia, i.a. relations with China. Her interest lies in interrelations between states and societies of Southeast Asia, various social or political developments and processes, such as urbanisation, human mobility, civil society, globalisation, various networks, state discourses. The key words of her research are borders and borderlands, geopolitics, power, ethnic minorities, identity policy, territoriality. In her studies Karin highlights the importance of local practices and localities in raising theories. In 2013 Karin published a sizable book in Estonian entitled ‘Kagu-Aasia riigid, rahvad ja ühiskonnad’ (‘States, Nations and Societies of Southeast Asia’).
– ‘Integration in Southeast Asia: Trajectories of Inclusion, Dynamics of Exclusion’, Project of the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union (2013-2015) – K.Dean is the representative of Tallinn University in the project
– ‘Culturescapes in transformation: towards an integrated theory of meaning making, Institutional Research Grant (IUT) of the Estonian Research Council, project leader H.Palang (2013-2018) – K. Dean is participating as a senior researcher on Southeast Asia related topics
– A project of the Estonian Research Council, ‘Power, Networks and Identities in Myanmar/Burma under the Impact of Globalization’, principal investigator and person in charge K. Dean (2011-2012; 2013, as a part of the IUT of H. Palang).
– ‘Typology of change in cultural paradigms under secondary modernisation’ target financed project (SF), principal investigator R.Raud (2008-2012) – K.Dean participated as a senior researcher on topics related to Southeast Asia
– Joint module of Tallinn University, University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology: ‘Asian Societies, Economy and Politics’ (2010–2015) – project leader
– Joint project of Tallinn University, University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology ‘The Establishment of the Competence Centre for Asian Studies and research development in the Asian direction’ (2014–2015) – project leader
– Contract research commissioned by the Chancellery of the Riigikogu (at the Institute of Political Science and Governance of Tallinn University) ‘Strategies of Asian policy: the experience of other countries and recommendations for Estonia’ (2011) – author of the sections dealing with Southeast Asia
– Conference ‘Multiple Lives of Democracy: from Europe to Asia Pacific’, Tallinn University, 25.04.2014, organiser