Southeast Asia has been portrayed as a key site in the global land grab. Featuring leading scholars in the field, this collection critically examines the nature and extent of land grabbing in Southeast Asia, and seeks to locate this phenomena in broader agrarian and environmental transitions (AET). The individual contributions suggest that there is little evidence of a global land grab in Southeast Asia, but that over the last ten years the surge of plantations and processes of land grabbing has been a key feature in the region. The collection considers how broader AET processes may be brought more clearly into focus by decentring land grabbing, including consideration of its absence as well presence. The diversity of cases in this collection coalesces around the productive tension in land grab studies between global capitalist processes on the one hand, and context-specificity and contingent motivations fuelling the expansion of large-scale plantations for oil palm, rubber, cassava and other cash crops, on the other hand. The contributors further broaden the entry points to consider cross-sectoral AET processes such as enclosures for mining, conservation and hydropower and explore the contingencies that help to maintain smallholder production.
The chapters originally published as a special issue in The Journal of Peasant Studies.
Table of Contents
1. What happened when the land grab came to Southeast Asia?
Laura Schoenberger, Derek Hall and Peter Vandergeest
2. Tapping into rubber: China’s opium replacement program and rubber production in Laos
Juliet N. Lu
3. From land grab to agrarian transition? Hybrid trajectories of accumulation and environmental change on the Cambodia–Vietnam border
Alice Beban and Timothy Gorman
4. The political ecology of cross-sectoral cumulative impacts: modern landscapes, large hydropower dams and industrial tree plantations in Laos and Cambodia
Ian G. Baird and Keith Barney
5. Land control dynamics and social-ecological transformations in upland Philippines
Marvin Joseph F. Montefrio
6. Recognition through reconnaissance? Using drones for counter-mapping in Indonesia
Irendra Radjawali, Oliver Pye and Michael Flitner
7. Plantations and mines: resource frontiers and the politics of the smallholder slot
Nancy Lee Peluso
8. Struggling against excuses: winning back land in Cambodia
9. Smallholder bargaining power in large-scale land deals: a relational perspective
Rosanne Rutten, Laurens Bakker, Maria Lisa Alano, Tania Salerno, Laksmi A. Savitri and Mohamad Shohibuddin
10. The return of the plantation? Historical and contemporary trends in the relation between plantations and smallholdings in Southeast Asia
Jean-François Bissonnette and Rodolphe De Koninck
11. Alternatives to land grabbing: exploring conditions for smallholder inclusion in agricultural commodity chains in Southeast Asia
Rob Cramb, Vongpaphane Manivong, Jonathan C. Newby, Kem Sothorn and Patrick S. Sibat
Peter Vandergeest is a Professor of Geography at York University, Canada. His research over the past 30 years has focused on agrarian and environmental transformations in Southeast Asia, and has encompassed attention to forests, agriculture, aquaculture and, most recently, fisheries.
Laura Schoenberger is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at York University, Canada. Her research interests are in political ecology, agrarian transformations, state power, conflict and land. She is currently completing her dissertation on land control and property formation in the context of large-scale land acquisitions and recent state efforts to redistribute land in Cambodia.
'It provides a welcome and valuable contribution to the field of agrarian studies by nuancing and regionalising discussions of land grabbing in ways that contextualize the prevailing analysis, moving beyond the meta-narrative of the global land grab that plagued initial conceptualizations of the phenomenon... De-centring Land Grabbing is a highly valuable contribution to the debates and literature on land grabbing. It is a much-needed correction to the universal abstractions of the global land grab narrative, grounding it in the regional and local dynamics of Southeast Asia that shape how land grabs actually materialize and generate agrarian-environmental change.'
Miles Kenney-Lazar, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore