Land reform, land politics and resettlement in Laos have changed people’s land access and livelihoods. But these reforms have also transformed political subjectivity and landed property into matters for government to a degree hitherto unknown in Laos. The control over people, land and space has consolidated sovereignty in ways that make government an ineluctable part of people’s relation to land. This transforms agrarian relations. Three cases demonstrate how rural small holders’ access to land depends on the ways in which property and political subjects have been produced. As a consequence, a government institution’s control over land does not represent or reflect pre-existing sovereignty. It produces it.
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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.