van Schendel's current research deals with (a) Borderlands and the social consequences of the mobility of people and goods. Borderlands are important sites for studying migrating people and moving commodities as well as the shifting networks of solidarity, remittances, knowledge, meaning and power that result from such practices. The main focus is on the borderlands of India, Bangladesh and Burma. (b) Mobile cash-crop production systems and trajectories of globalization. van Schendel is interested in the production of commodities for world markets, how production was embedded in agrarian societies, and under which circumstances these systems could be moved from one (colonial) society to another. Why were plans to establish a new cash-crop production system successful in one case but not another? How did different combinations of labour, land, water, capital and knowledge enable or disable such systems? His main focus is on the global movement of indigo production in the late 18th and 19th centuries, with special attention to British India (now India/Bangladesh) and the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia).