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Rethinking state¿ethnic minority relations in Laos: Internal resettlement, land reform and counter-territorialization

Lestrelin G.. 2011. Political Geography, 30 (6) : p. 311-319.

DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2011.06.005

Democratic participation and the political weight of ethnic minorities have generally increased across Southeast Asia. Indigenous movements, alliances with nongovernmental organizations and legal challenges have become important instruments for laying claims on customary resources and influencing or countering state territorialization. While such strategies are generally not feasible in one-party states such as the Lao People's Democratic Republic, minorities may also engage in more subtle and covert forms of counter-territorialization. This paper provides a detailed account of local responses to internal resettlement and land reform in two minority villages of northern Laos. Drawing upon Michel Foucault's description of governmentality, it discusses the functioning of state¿ethnic minority relations and argues for a critical yet nuanced perspective on the agency of ethnic minorities vis-à-vis state territorialization.

Mots-clés : utilisation des terres; groupe éthnique; groupe minoritaire; communauté rurale; gouvernance; réforme foncière; approches participatives; accès à la terre; développement régional; politique foncière; république démocratique populaire lao; développement territorial

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