Contested Forests

An Analysis of the Highlander Response to Logging, Ratanakiri Province, Northeast Cambodia

Author: Ruth Bottomley


This article examines in detail the influence of the global on state-local relationships in the particular context of Ratanakiri Province, Northeast Cambodia. It is argued that modern state power in Cambodia is based on Western concepts of nation-building, including territorialization, assimilation, economic development, and the commercial exploitation of resources and has led to the incorporation of the remote forested areas of the periphery into the net of the state. Since the 1993 election, the plunder of the northeast has been justified in the name of "development." The author shows that the response of forest-dependent highlanders to this state intervention cannot be understood as either simple opposition or acquiescence. Rather it has been a contradictory and fragmentary response, emerging from the conflicting desires for autonomy over land and forests and for the benefits to be gained from "development" and inclusion within the hypothesized "nation-state."

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December 2002
© 2007 ILO/Crozet M.