Logging in Muddy Waters

The Politics of Forest Exploitation in Cambodia

Author: Philippe Le Billon


"Logging in Muddy Waters" analyzes the boom in forest exploitation that characterized the 1990s in Cambodia, focusing on the instrumentalization of disorder and violence as a mode of control of forest access and timber-trading channels. The article examines tensions existing between the aspirations of Cambodians for a better life, the power politics of elites, and the hope of some in the international community for a green and democratic peace. These tensions have produced both an interlocking pattern of "illegal logging" from the highest levels of the state to self-demobilized soldiers and peasants and sustained criticism that was only temporarily resolved through a legalization of the forest sector that benefited large-scale companies to the prejudice of the poor.

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December 2002
© Sai Latt