Resource information

Date of publication: 
December 2015
Resource Language: 
Pages: 
i-iii, 1-26
Copyright details: 
BRICS Initiatives for Critical Agrarian Studies (BICAS), MOSAIC Research Project, Land Deal Politics Initiative (LDPI), RCSD Chiang Mai University, Transnational Institute

Scholars have produced valuable insights on the question of recent “land grabbing” in the global South. They have, however, insufficiently studied the issue from below, particularly from the point of view of a crucial group in the land conundrum: the rural youth. This paper brings to the fore the perspectives of Laotian rural youngsters amidst a hasty agrarian transition, in which the borisat (company) –in the form of large monoculture plantations– has permeated both the physical landscape and the daily narratives of people. Critical stances on the Foucauldian approach of governmentality are useful to challenge the idea that (young) rural populations facing agrarian change are mere ‘subjects of power’. Through ethnographies in the province of Champasak, the paper analyses how do young people’s aspirations of a ‘better life’, either verbally expressed or enacted through other media, play a role in the way they understand and cope with outcomes of livelihood change vis-à-vis more powerful actors, including their root households. Although young people’s aspirations reflect a growing material impossibility to inherit or acquire farmland, there are also subjective meanings that unveil a preference for salaried work (off-farm), which more rapidly fulfil needs of autonomy and peer identification. Land concessions for rubber and coffee plantations, which predominantly target young labour in the studied sites, have become a source of such salaried work –not without major constraints and exploitative situations for the majority.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 
Portilla, Gilda Sentíes
Publisher(s): 
University or Research Institution

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.

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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.

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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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The Mekong Land Research Forum seeks to bring research and policy a bit closer together. It does this in part by making the research more accessible and in part by helping to distill the key messages and points of debate so that information overload does not overwhelm policy makers and other advocates for progressive policy reform.

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