Hannah McNicol

Graduate Researcher


Hannah holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in History and Politics from Magdalen College, University of Oxford (2018) and a Masters in Development Studies, specialising in Gender Development from the University of Melbourne (Deans Honours List). She is a dual awarded PhD Student at the University of Melbourne and University of Manchester and affiliate of the Global Development Institute.

The focus of Hannah's research will be the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the ‘Second’ Global Cold War and competition for infrastructure financing in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Cambodia. Many SEZs become enclaves which offer few benefits to the city in which they are located. However, Chinese investment purports to prioritise sectors that offer potential to improve human development indicators through ‘inclusive infrastructure’. Hannah is interested in exploring how SEZs shape urbanisation in Cambodia, and hopes to ground the BRI through researching the experiences of impacted communities engaging with the BRI everyday.

Drawing on her experience working in International Development and passion for gender equality, Hannah hopes to explore gendered experiences of the BRI. Hannah will also bring training in history to assess how the ‘Second’ Global Cold War can be better understood by reflecting on the historiographical frameworks of the first Global Cold War. This includes embracing the opportunity to move beyond a bipolar Cold War framework to reassert agency of client-states in order to produce inclusive and practical research.

Previous publications include being a key contributor to an Asian Development Bank paper at Oxford University on economic growth policy and sustainable investment in China and a publication on the need for ethical representation in the development sector. In her current role as Communications Officer for Good Return (an Australian International Development organisation working on women’s economic empowerment throughout the Asia-Pacific), Hannah also contributes to Good Return’s blog and is part of  a team to produce the Frontier Broker Network’s ‘Investing in Gender Equality’ podcast.

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