Authoritarian resource governance and emerging peasant resistance in the context of Sino-Vietnamese Tree Plantations, Southeastern Laos | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2015
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
MLRF:2151
Pages: 
i-iv, 1-21
Copyright details: 
BRICS Initiatives for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS), MOSAIC Research Project, Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI), RCSD Chiang Mai University, Transnational Institute

Over the past decade, Laos has experienced a land rush by foreign investors seeking to gain large tracts of land for hydropower, mining, and plantation projects. The rapid pace of the phenomenon has prompted signif icant concern by international observers, Lao civil society, and certain sections of the government, regarding the impacts upon farmers that are dispossessed of their land and communal resources. However, both investors and peasant communities alike have differing experiences with the investment process. Depending upon the power of the investor and their relationship with the state, some projects have been implemented much more quickly and forcefully than others. This paper argues that the relationships formed between international resource capital and the Lao state affect the opportunities for peasants to resist conceding their land and thus impact the success of the project in fulfilling their land quotas. Variations in resistance and project implementation have important implications for the pace of agrarian transformation resulting from plantation investment, and who is able to win or lose from the process. The paper problematizes the conception that investors from the Global South, particularly Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) and middle-income countries (MICs), are able to grab large amounts of land from weak states, dispossess marginalized peasants, and engender rapid agrarian transitions without constraint or resistance. These arguments are demonstrated by analyzing the process of investment for two tree plantation companies in Laos: Quasa-Geruco Joint Stock Company, a subsidiary of the state-owned Vietnam Rubber Group, and Shandong Sun Paper Industry Joint Stock Company, the largest private paper company in China. Field research was conducted in Vientiane Capital and eastern Savannakhet province, Laos between June 2013 and February 2015, and data were collected through semi-structured interviews with government officials at all administrative levels, plantation companies, village leaders and households, and civil society organizations.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Kenney-Lazar, Miles

Publisher(s): 

The International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague is part of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

It is a graduate institute of policy-oriented critical social science, founded in 1952 and able to draw on sixty years of experience.

ISS is a highly diverse international community of scholars and students from the global south and the north, which brings together people, ideas and insights in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and conducts innovative research into fundamental social problems.

The Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI) is a network of the research programme of Political Economy of Resources, Environment and Population (PER) of the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Part of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The aim of LDPI is for a broad framework encompassing the political economy, political ecology and political sociology of land deals.

Our general framework is based on answering 6 key questions:

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The Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) was established in 1998 at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University, Thailand in response to the need for integration of social science and natural science knowledge in order to gain a better understanding of sustainable development issues in upper mainland Southeast Asia. RCSD has, since that time, striven to become a truly regional center for sustainable development issues, linking graduate training and research to development policy and practice.

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world. For more than 40 years, TNI has served as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world.

Founded in 1974 as a network of ‘activist scholars’, TNI continues to be a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars and policy makers.

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