Turning Land into Capital

Turning Land into Capital

Development and Dispossession in the Mekong Region


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Under the guise of development, land is being commodified and concentrated at the expense of the rural poor

In Southeast Asia reversals of earlier agrarian reforms have rolled back "land-to-the-tiller" policies created in the wake of Cold War–era revolutions. This trend, marked by increased land concentration and the promotion of export-oriented agribusiness at the expense of smallholder farmers, exposes the convergence of capitalist relations and state agendas that expand territorial control within and across national borders. Turning Land into Capital examines the contradictions produced by superimposing twenty-first-century neoliberal projects onto diverse landscapes etched by decades of war and state socialism.

Chapters in the book explore geopolitics, legacies of colonialism, ideologies of development, and strategies to achieve land justice in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The resulting picture reveals the place-specific interactions of state and market ideologies, regional geopolitics, and local elites in concentrating control over land.