Full-time Academic Staff: Teaching Staff

Dr Mia M Bennett 




391 77451

Assistant Professor

BA (UCLA); MPhil (University of Cambridge); PhD (UCLA)




Mia Bennett merges methods from political geography and remote sensing to analyze the critical and material practices of infrastructure development in spaces commonly thought of as "frontiers," namely the Arctic and areas within China's Belt and Road Initiative. Currently, she is researching the scalar politics of how state and non-state actors conjure places as "infrastructure gaps" in order to rationalize major development projects. Previously, she undertook fieldwork in Canada's Northwest Territories to understand how the Inuvialuit people spearheaded the construction of the country’s first highway to the Arctic Ocean, which opened in 2017, and applied multitemporal night light imagery to study regional development in Russia and China following the Soviet Union's disintegration. Bennett speaks French, Swedish, and Russian and has traveled extensively in the Arctic, from the Greenland Ice Sheet to northeast Russia. As a strong advocate for making academic research accessible and interesting to the general public, Bennett comments frequently on Arctic issues on her blog, Cryopolitics​, which is syndicated by outlets including The Maritime Executive, Radio Canada International, and Arctic Today. She received her PhD in Geography from UCLA and MPhil in Polar Studies from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar. 

Research Interests
  • The Arctic

  • Infrastructure Development

  • Belt & Road Initiative

  • Remote Sensing

  • Indigenous Capitalism


6 credits

Globalization and Tourism (Common Core)

6 credits

Silk Roads Past and Present: China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Perspective


6 credits

China Studies Research Project (Capstone Experience)

selected Publications


  • Van Gevelt, T., Abok, H., Bennett, M. M., Fam, S. D., George, F., Kulathuramaiyer, N., Low, C. T. and Zaman, T. (2019) “Indigenous Perceptions of Climate Anomalies in Malaysian Borneo.” Global Environmental Change 58:101974. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101974 (IF2018=10.427).

  • Liu, C., Yang, K., Bennett, M. M., Guo, Z., Cheng, L. and Li, M. (2019) “Automated Extraction of Built-up Areas by Fusing VIIRS Nighttime Lights and Landsat-8 data.” Remote Sensing 11(13): 1571. DOI: 10.3390/rs11131571 (IF2018=4.118).


  • Jia, F. and Bennett, M. M. (2018) “Chinese Infrastructure Diplomacy in Russia: Limits to Implementation based on Project Type, Location, and Scale.” Eurasian Geography and Economics. DOI: 10.1080/15387216.2019.15713712018 (IF2018=2.088).

  • Bennett, M. M. (2018) “From State-initiated to Indigenous-driven Infrastructure: The Inuvialuit and Canada's First Highway to the Arctic Ocean.” World Development 109: 134-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.04.003 (IF2018=3.905).


  • Bennett, M. M. (2017) “Singapore: The “Global” city in a Globalizing Arctic.” Journal of Borderlands Studies 32(2): 289-310. DOI: 10.1080/08865655.2017.1367708

  • Bennett, M. M. and Smith, Laurence C. (2017) “Using Multitemporal Night-time Lights Data to Compare Regional Development in Russia and China, 1992–2012.” International Journal of Remote Sensing 38(21): 5962-5991. DOI: 1 0.1080/01431161.2017.1312035 (IF2018=2.493).

  • Bennett, M. M. and Smith, Laurence C. (2017) “Advances in Using Multi-temporal Night-time Lights Satellite Imagery to Detect, Estimate, and Monitor Socioeconomic Dynamics.” Remote Sensing of Environment 192: 176-197. DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2017.01.005 (IF2018=8.218).


  • Bennett, M. M. (2016) “The Silk Road goes North: Russia within China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative.” Area Development and Policy 1(3): 341-351. DOI: 10.1080/23792949.2016.1239508

  • Bennett, M. M. (2016) “Discursive, Material, Vertical, and Extensive Dimensions of Post-Cold War Arctic Resource Extraction.” Polar Geography 52(6): 630-644. DOI: 10.1080/1088937X.2016.1234517

  • Bennett, M. M. (2016) “Torched Earth: Dimensions of Extraterritorial Nationalism in the Chinese and Russian Olympic Torch Relays.” Geoforum 74: 171-181. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.06.007 (IF2018=2.926).

  • Bennett, M. M., Greaves, W., Riedlsperger, R. and Botella, A. (2016) “Articulating the Arctic: Contrasting State and Inuit Maps of the Canadian North.” Polar Record 52(6): 630-644. DOI: 10.1017/S0032247416000164 (IF2018=1.051).


  • Bennett, M. M. (2015) “How China sees the Arctic: Reading between Intraregional and Extraregional Narratives.” Geopolitics 20(3): 645-668. DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2015.1017757 (IF2018=2.756).


  • Bennett, M. M. (2014) “The Maritime Tiger: Exploring South Korea’s Interests and Role in the Arctic.” Strategic Analysis 38(6): 886-903. DOI: 10.1080/09700161.2014.952935

  • Bennett, M. M. (2014) “North by Northeast: Toward an Asian-Arctic Region.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 55(1): 71-93. DOI: 10.1080/15387216.2014.936480 (IF2018=2.088).


  • Bennett, M. M. (2013) “Bounding Nature: Conservation and Sovereignty in the Canadian and Russian Arctic.” Arctic Yearbook 2(1): 85-106.

Last Update: September 2019

Book chapters
  • Bennett, M. M. (2017) “Mapping Maritime Connections and Disconnections in a Changing Arctic in C. Ducruet (Ed.).” Advances in Shipping Data Analysis and Modeling: Tracking and Mapping Maritime Flows in the Age of Big Data. Oxon: Taylor and Francis.

  • Bennett, M. M. (2017) “Twenty-two 1,000-word Entries in M. Burnett (Ed.).” Natural Resource Conflicts: From Blood Diamonds to Rainforest Destruction.” Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Book reviews
  • Bennett, M.M. ​(2017) “Review of the book Arctic Law and Governance: The Role of China and Finland (eds. T. Koivurova, T. Qin, T. Nykänen, and S. Duyck).” Jindal Global Law Review.

Editorship of scholarly journals
  • Early Career Editor, Area Studies and Development

Journal Reviews
  • Political Geography, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 
    Energy Efficiency, Sustainability, Area Development and Policy, Journal of Borderlands Studies, Polar Geography, 
    Geopolitics, Cambridge Review of International Affairs



National Science Foundation GROW Fellowship (University of Vienna, Austria)


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship


UCLA Geography Department Best Graduate Student Paper, Nature-Society Category


American Association of Geographers (AAG) Eurasian Specialty Group Student Paper Competition – Honorary Mention


AAG Dissertation Grant


UCLA Charles F. Scott Fellowship


AAG Asian Specialty Group Best Graduate Student Paper Award


UCLA Dean’s Scholar Award


UCLA Departmental Fellowship


Graduate Tutors Prize for Distinction in MPhil, Fitzwilliam College


Gates Cambridge Fellow