Micro-Geopolitics: Capitalising Security in Laos’s Golden Quadrangle

Micro-Geopolitics: Capitalising Security in Laos’s Golden Quadrangle

Enclosure, dispossession and displacement loom large in current debates about the recent boom in transnational farmland deals, and about Chinese agribusiness for export in particular. Often under-examined, however, are the ways that legacies of geopolitical conflict shape the inevitably uneven distribution of enclosure, dispossession and displacement. This paper constructs a case of these ‘micro-geopolitical’ legacies by examining a Chinese rubber planting ‘promotion’ project in northwestern Laos’s emerging ‘Golden Quadrangle’ development region. It argues that longstanding concerns about security inform the ways that local authorities deploy investment projects that are otherwise seen as examples of ‘foreign’ land grabbing. Further, it shows that while the geographical aims of foreign agribusiness mesh with state-mediated resettlement efforts (a darker spin on the narrative of ‘win-win’ cooperation), these activities often precede current land deals rather than result from them. Chinese agribusiness in Laos’s upland interior thus appears less as a driver of displacement than a means for attempting to secure in place a particular (if precarious) configuration of population and security.

Authors: Dwyer, M. B.

Topic: agribusiness,land management,land policy,investment

Geographic: Laos

Publication Year: 2014

ISSN: 1465-0045

Source: Geopolitics 19(2): 377-405

DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2013.780033

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