Marte Nilsen

Senior Researcher

Marte Nilsen
Mobile phone: (+47) 988 79 323
Twitter: @MarteNilsen

Research Interests

  • Political and violent conflicts in Myanmar and Thailand
  • Civil society movements and societal transformation in peacebuilding and democratization
  • Religious and spiritual practices in politics and nation building
  • Popular culture and art in resistance movements
  • The politics of humanitarian aid and development schemes in violent conflicts
  • The Rohingya crisis and community strategies in forced displacement settings


Marte Nilsen is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). She is a Historian of Religions and holds a PhD from Lund University (Sweden). Her research focus is on political and violent conflicts in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Myanmar and Thailand, and on the Rohingya crisis.

In her current work, Nilsen investigates how opposition groups in Thailand and Myanmar use popular culture and art to challenge the legitimacy of the authoritarian state. The role of local cultures and religious and spiritual knowledge is of particular interest. In other projects, Nilsen conducts research on identity politics among Rohingya refugees and on the refugees' own humanitarian and political strategies.

Language skills

Fluent: Norwegian, English.
Intermediate: Thai, German.
Basic: Burmese, Chinese (Mandarin).


2022: Thai Language, level 3 (1 year), SOAS, University of London.
2012: Dr.philos., History of Religions, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University.
2012: Burmese language course (1 week intensive), SOAS University of London.
2006 Chinese language (KIN 1110-1120, 1 year), University of Oslo.
2005: Cand.philol., History of Religions, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.
2002: Cand.mag., History of Religions, Sociology, History, University of Oslo.

Positions of trust

2020 – present: Coordiator, PRIO's FIWON Network.
2017 – present: Coordiator, PRIO's Religion research group.
2017 – 2021: Coordinator, Research School on Peace and Conflict.
2006 – 2008: President, Attac Norway.
2005-2006: University board member, University of Oslo.



"Myanmar med Marte Nilsen" 198 land med Einar Tørnquist
"Aung San Suu Kyi og Myanmar" Historier som endret verden
"Coup in Myanmar seven months later” PRIO’s Peace in a Pod 54
"Myanmar et halvt år etter militærkuppet” Verden og vi NCA
“Kuppet i Myanmar” Utviklingspoddensialet
“Myanmar after the Coup” The Nordic Asia Podcast NIAS
“Coup in Myanmar: Protest, Art Technology” PRIO’s Peace in a Pod 25
"Art, Conflict and Land rights in Myanmar” PRIO’s Peace in a Pod 18

Television and Radio appearances (sample)

Myanmar Politics:             Studio 2, NRK P2, 20.09.2022

Myanmar Politics:             Studio 2, NRK P2, 01.02.2022

Myanmar Politics:             Dagsnytt 18, NRK2, 28.09.2021

Myanmar Politics:             Studio 2, NRK P2, 01.02.2021

Thai Politics:                      Dagens, NRK P1, 15.10.2020

Thai Politics:                      Nyhetslunsj, NRK 06.05.2019

Thai Politics:                      TV2 Nyhetskanalen, 06.05.2019

Thai Politics:                      NRK Alltid Nyheter, 25.03.2019

Thai Politics:                      Urix på lørdag, NRK P2, 23.03.2019

Thai Politics:                      Studio 2, NRK P2, 06.03.2019

Myanmar Politics:             Urix, NRK 2, 20.09.2017

Thai Politics:                      Ytring, NRK P2, 14.05.2017

Thai Politics:                      Norgesglasset, NRK P1, 13.10.2016

Thai Politics:                      Urix, NRK2, 12.10.2016

Thai Politics:                      Her og Nå, NRK P1, 12.08 2016

Thai Politics:                      Nyhetskanalen, 10pm. TV2 11.08.2016

Thai Politics:                      Nyhetsmorgen, NRK P2, 08.08.2016

Myanmar Politics:             Urix, NRK2 15.02.2016

Thai Politics:                      Dagsrevyen, NRK1, 18.08.2015

Myanmar Politics:             Urix NRK2, 15.03.2016.  

Myanmar Politics:             Nyhetsettermiddag NRK P2, 11.05.2015

Thai Politics:                      Norgesglasset NRK P1, 23.05.2014

Thai Politics:                      Dagsnytt 18 NRK2, 22.05.2014

Thai Politics:                      Nyhetsmorgen P2, 03.02.2014

Myanmar Politics:             Urix NRK2, 14.11.2012

Thai Politics:                      Aktuelt NRK2, 19.05.2010

Thai Politics:                      Dagsnytt 18 NRK2, 18.05.2010

Thai Politics:                      Dagsnytt 18 NRK2, 19.05.2010


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


The following publications are specific to the PRIO CCC Centre. A more complete list is available at

All Publications

PhD Thesis

Nilsen, Marte (2012) Negotiating Thainess: Religious and National Identities in Thailand's Southern Conflict. PhD thesis, Lund Studies in History of Religions, Lund University, Sweden.

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Nilsen, Marte (2018) Religious Motivation in Political Struggles: The Case of Thailand's Patani Conflict, Journal of Religion and Violence 5(3): 291–311.
Nilsen, Marte (2011) The Spirit of a Heroine: Ya Mo - Spirit Reverence, Patriotism and Thai Buddhism, Modern Asian Studies 45(6): 1599–1625.

Book Chapter

Nilsen, Marte (2012) Military Temples and Saffron-Robed Soldiers: Legitimacy and the Securing of Buddhism in Southern Thailand, in Buddhism and Violence. Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia. London: Routledge (37–53).

Related pages