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Mega-Plantations in Southeast Asia

Landscapes of Displacement

Miles Kenney-Lazar and Noboru Ishikawa

This article reviews a wide body of literature on the emergence and expansion of agro-industrial, monoculture plantations across Southeast Asia through the lens of megaprojects. Following the characterization of megaprojects as displacement, we define mega-plantations as plantation development that rapidly and radically transforms landscapes in ways that displace and replace preexisting human and nonhuman communities. Mega-plantations require the application of large amounts of capital and political power and the transnational organization of labor, capital, and material. They emerged in Southeast Asia under European colonialism in the nineteenth century and have expanded again since the 1980s at an unprecedented scale and scope to feed global appetites for agro-industrial commodities such as palm oil and rubber. While they have been contested by customary land users, smallholders, civil society organizations, and even government regulators, their displacement and transformation of Southeast Asia’s rural landscapes will likely endure for quite some time.

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When Roads Cannot Be Used

The Use of Trained Elephants for Emergency Logistics, Off-Road Conveyance, and Political Revolt in South and Southeast Asia

Jacob Shell

This article is about the use of trained Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for transportation, in particular across muddy or flooded terrain, clandestine off-road transportation, and during guerrilla operations or political revolts. In a sense, these are all in fact the same transport task: the terrestrial conveyance of people and supplies when, due to weather or politics or both, roads cannot be used. While much recent work from fields such as anthropology, geography, history, and conservation biology discusses the unique relationship between humans and trained elephants, the unique human mobilities opened up by elephant-based transportation has been for the most part overlooked as a research topic. Looking at both historical and recent (post–World War II) examples of elephant-based transportation throughout South and Southeast Asia, I suggest here that this mode of transportation has been especially associated with epistemologically less visible processes occurring outside of state-recognized, formal institutions.

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Variants of Frontier Mimesis

Colonial Encounter and Intercultural Interaction in the Lao-Vietnamese Uplands

Oliver Tappe

The history of upland ethnic groups in mainland Southeast Asia shows that they adopted a variety of mimetic practices with the aim of negotiating a beneficial relationship with lowland empires ( Jonsson 2014 ; Tappe 2015b ). State actors from the

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Jonathan Friedman

James Scott, The art of not being governed: An anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 464, ISBN 0300152280.

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Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy

Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia

Matthew David Ordoñez

Garry Rodan, Participation Without Democracy: Containing Conflict in Southeast Asia (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2018), 281pp., ISBN: 9781501720109.

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Kenneth Christie

The emergence of an ‘Asian’ form of democracy in distinction to a liberal Western one has called into question longstanding assumptions that economic development leads to democracy, which was a mainstay of modernisation theory from the early 1960s to the present day (i.e. Lipset 1959; Diamond 1992).2 This article will examine some of the assumptions behind Asian democracy (sometimes called ‘illiberal democracy’), its relationship with economic development and the difficulties and tensions between these propositions in Southeast Asia in relation to modernisation and political change.

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James F. Eder

English abstract: Degradation and reconfiguration of natural resources in coastal and upland Southeast Asia have set in motion a characteristic process of rural livelihood diversification with significant implications for gender roles and economic well-being. Drawing primarily on case material from the Philippines, this paper explores the transformations in household economies that have accompanied the search for more profitable and sustainable livelihoods and suggests how state and NGO interventions might encourage an entrepreneurial and economically desirable pattern of household-level diversification instead of a debilitating and wage-labor based pattern of individual-level diversification. These interventions include an expanded role for credit; skills training and related forms of support, particularly for women; protection of newly developing household enterprises from competition from large commercial operations; and more consensual and socially equitable forms of environmental governance.

Spanish abstract: La degradación y la reconfiguración de los recursos naturales en zonas costeras y tierras altas del sudeste asiático han impulsado un proceso particular de diversificación de los medios de vida rurales, con significativas consecuencias para los roles de género y el bienestar económico. A partir de una investigación realizada por el autor en las Filipinas, este trabajo explora las transformaciones de la economía de los hogares que han acompañado la búsqueda de medios de vida más rentables y sostenibles. Además, sugiere que las intervenciones del gobierno y de las ONG pueden fomentar un proceso de diversificación de ingresos en la economía de los hogares (household economies), emprendedor y económicamente deseable, en lugar de un modelo de diversificación individual debilitante basado en la relación entre salario y empleo. Estas intervenciones incluyen un rol ampliado de las formas de crédito, capacitacion y otras formas de apoyo, específicos para mujeres, protección de las nacientes empresas familiares frente a la competencia de grandes granjas comerciales, y formas de gobernanza medioambiental más consensuales y socialmente responsables.

French abstract: La dégradation et la reconfiguration des ressources naturelles sur les côtes et les hautes terres de l'Asie du Sud Est ont entamé un processus caractéristique de la diversification des moyens de subsistance en milieu rural, avec des implications considérables pour les rôles de genre et le bien-être économique. Se basant principalement sur des données venant des Philippines, cet article examine les transformations des revenus des ménages qui ont accompagné la recherche de moyens de subsistance plus durables et plus profitables. En outre, l'article suggère de quelle façon les interventions de l'État et des ONG peuvent encourager un modèle audacieux et économiquement souhaitable de diversification au niveau des ménages, au lieu d'un modèle de diversification au niveau de l'individu, débilitant et basé sur la relation salaire/travail. Ces interventions comprennent un rôle accru du crédit, des formations professionnelles et des formes de soutien apparentées (en particulier pour les femmes), la protection des entreprises des ménages tout juste en développement vis à vis de la compétition avec les grandes exploitations commerciales, ainsi que des formes de gouvernance environnementale plus consensuelles et socialement équitables.

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The Mule Caravans of Western Yunnan

An Oral History of the Muleteers of Zhaozhou

Ma Jianxiong and Ma Cunzhao

Mule caravans established a network across physical, political, and ethnic boundaries that integrated Southwest China, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. This article is a first exploration of this little-known mobile network. Based mainly on oral history, it focuses on the mule caravans based in Zhaozhou in western Yunnan from the late Qing to the 1940s, when the first motor roads were constructed. The investigation assembles horse and mule technologies and trade organization in detail in order to reconstruct the role and standing of transporters and their networks in local society, in the regional setting, in a volatile political environment, and in the face of challenging natural conditions.

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Health interregionalism in combating communicable diseases

EU cooperation with ASEAN and the African Union

Vincent Rollet

English abstract: This last decade, regional organizations progressively became unavoidable actors of regional health governance and have been supported by some global health actors to strengthen such a role. Among these actors, the European Union (EU) is the only regional organization that implements health initiatives in cooperation with its regional counterparts. This article focuses on such “health interregionalism” toward Southeast Asia and Africa and in the field of communicable diseases, with the main objective of assessing its nature and identifying its main functions. It concludes that although appreciated and needed, the EU’s health interregionalism should better reflect the EU’s experience in regional health governance in order to represent a unique instrument of development aid and an added value for regional organizations.

Spanish abstract: En el último decenio, las organizaciones regionales se han convertido progresivamente en actores inevitables de la gobernanza regional de la salud, recibiendo el apoyo de actores mundiales para fortalecer esa función. Entre éstos, la Unión Europea (UE) es la única organización regional que implementa iniciativas de salud en cooperación con sus contrapartes regionales. Este artículo se centra en este ““interregionalismo en salud”” hacia el sudeste asiático y África y en el ámbito de las enfermedades transmisibles, con el objetivo de evaluar su naturaleza e identificar sus principales funciones. Concluye que el interregionalismo en salud de la UE debería reflejar mejor su experiencia en materia de gobernanza regional de la salud, al representar un instrumento único de ayuda al desarrollo y un valor añadido para las organizaciones regionales.

French abstract: Au cours de la dernière décennie, les organisations régionales sont progressivement devenues des acteurs incontournables de la gouvernance régionale de la santé et ont été soutenues par certains acteurs mondiaux. Parmi ces acteurs, l’Union européenne (UE) est la seule organisation régionale qui mette en oeuvre des initiatives en matière de santé en coopération avec ses homologues régionaux. L’article se concentre sur cet «interrégionalisme en matière de santé» vers l’Asie du Sud-Est et l’Afrique dans le domaine des maladies transmissibles, afin d’évaluer sa nature et d’identifier ses principales fonctions. Il conclut que, bien qu’apprécié et nécessaire, l’interrégionalisme devrait mieux refléter l’expérience de l’UE en matière de gouvernance de santé régionale afin de représenter un instrument unique d’aide au développement et une valeur ajoutée pour les organisations régionales.

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Delta Ontologies

Infrastructural Transformations in the Chao Phraya Delta, Thailand

Atsuro Morita and Casper Bruun Jensen

to shape land. In contrast, the ‘galactic polities’ ( Tambiah 1977 ) of Southeast Asia conceive of deltas as extensions of the sea into land. Examining these incongruent delta ontologies facilitates an analysis of their ongoing, open-ended dynamics