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The purpose of the Mekong Land Research Forum online site is to provide structured access to published and unpublished research on land issues in the Mekong Region. It is based on the premise that debates and decisions around land governance can be enhanced by drawing on the considerable volume of research, documented experience and action-based reflection that is available.