Landscapes of Political Memories: War Legacies and Land Negotiations in Laos

TitleLandscapes of Political Memories: War Legacies and Land Negotiations in Laos
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBaird IG, Le Billon P
Secondary TitlePolitical Geography
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Key themesCivilSociety-Donors, Dispossession-grabbing, FDI, MarginalisedPeople

Wars and their aftermaths frequently transform land use and ownership, reshaping 'post-conflict' landscapes through new boundaries, population movements, land reforms and conditions of access. Within a global context of controversial land concessions and farmland acquisitions, we bring to light the continued salience of historical memories of war in the ways land conflicts are being negotiated in Laos. Considering circumstances at different scales-from bilateral government relations to village-level claims-we find that political capital linked to memories of wartime affiliations have crucial spatial and place-based connections, and that they affect the ways investors, government officials and villagers negotiate over land concessions. Ethnographic evidence, spatial analysis and a survey of expatriate development workers engaged with land issues in Laos suggest that such 'political memories' are an important but often overlooked factor in shaping an uneven concessions landscape. We discuss implications for foreign development organizations that tend to privilege technical and legal aspects of land management over such political dimensions.


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Journal Article