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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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ARTICLE
Year : 2004  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 97-136

Territorialisation and the Politics of Highland Landscapes in Vietnam: Negotiating Property Relations in Policy, Meaning and Practice


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Jennifer C Sowerwine
960 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94708
USA
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This article examines the making of post-socialist forest property relations in highland Vietnam in policy, meaning and practice, and the resultant implications for patterns of resource use, local power relations, and forest biodiversity and cover. It utilises the framework of political ecology to explore how macro-level institutions and ideologies intersect with local understandings and practices to regulate resource access, use and control. Specifically, this article examines changes in farmers' de facto and de jure rights in land and land-based capital in response to institutional and market changes, and the micro-processes through which those relations are constituted and contested. It explores how forest lands are imagined by the state and made legible through various mechanisms of sur­veying, classifying, mapping and registering forest land parcels, a set of processes defined as territorialisation. It extends the analysis beyond the nation-state, dem­onstrating the role of international environmental capital in facilitating those processes. State territoriality, however, has not resulted in the uniform transform­ation of forest property arrangements into private control. Rather, existing social structures, land use practices and social(ist) networks may in fact alter or subvert forestry reforms in ways not envisaged by the state. This article explores the particu­larities and unintended consequences of forest reforms through a comparison of two highland Dao villages in northern Vietnam at the turn of the millennium.


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