Center for Southeast Asian Studies Affiliated Assistant Professor
Nature-society relations, environmental governance, land, agro-industrial plantations, development, dispossession, resistance, Laos, Myanma
My research focuses on the political economy and environmental governance of large-scale agro-industrial plantations and other land development projects in mainland Southeast Asia, particularly in Laos and Myanmar (Burma). I am interested in understanding how social and political relationships among state agencies, resource concessionaires, civil society organizations, and peasant communities shape the geographies of plantation expansion, agrarian-environmental change, and development. I study how indigenous peasant communities and individual households alter the trajectories of plantation development by resisting the expropriation of their customary lands, forests, and resources, especially in authoritarian political contexts. In my dissertation research, I show how resistance to industrial tree plantations in Laos, where open protest and social movements are repressed, must occur in ways that are aligned with the hegemonic power relations of the state, mobilizing dominant ideologies and political connections for peasant needs and interests. For my postdoctoral project, I am extending my focus to Myanmar to conduct a comparative analysis of the ways in which communities assert control over land and resources in different types of changing political contexts. Myanmar’s recent political reforms and democratic transition provides a welcome opportunity for studying how the (neo)liberalization of authoritarian resource governance regimes shapes localized resource access.
Research publications, academic articles:
Refereed journal articles
Pathammavong, B., M. KENNEY-LAZAR and E.V. Sayaraj (Forthcoming) Financing the 450 Year Road: Land Expropriation and Politics ‘All the Way Down’ in Vientiane, Laos. Development and Change.
Kay, K. and M. KENNEY-LAZAR (Forthcoming) Value in Capitalist Natures: An Emerging Research Agenda. Dialogues in Human Geography.
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. and K. Kay (early online view). Introduction: Value in Capitalist Natures. Capitalism, Nature, Socialism. (guest-edited special issue)
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2012). Plantation Rubber, Land Grabbing, and Social-Property Transformations in Southern Laos. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(3-4): 1017–1037.
Book reviews and commentary
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016). Review of Land’s End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier by Tania Murray Li, International Development Planning Review, 38(4): 349–350.
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016). Review of Fields of Desire: Poverty and Policy in Laos by Holly High, The Journal of Peasant Studies. (early online view)
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. and J. Lauermann. (2012). The 18th Annual Critical Geography Conference. Human Geography, 5(1): 92–97.
Consultancy reports and working papers
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016) Protected Area Governance and Equitable Access in the Lao PDR. Pakse, Laos: Global Association for People and the Environment (GAPE).
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016) Linking Land and Food Tenure Security in the Lao PDR. Vientiane: Land Issues Working Group.
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016) Assessment of Governance Mechanisms, Livelihood Outcomes and Incentive Instruments for Green Rubber in the Lao PDR. Working Paper 206. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2016) Assessment of Governance Mechanisms, Livelihood Outcomes and Incentive Instruments for Green Rubber in Myanmar. Working Paper 207. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2015) Authoritarian Resource Governance and Emerging Peasant Resistance in the Context of Sino-Vietnamese Tree Plantations, Southeastern Laos. BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies Working Paper No. 1. The Hague: The International Institute of Social Studies.
KENNEY-LAZAR, M. (2013) Shifting Cultivation in Laos: Transitions in Policy and Perspective. Vientiane: The Sector Working Group on Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Project name: Land investments and community-based environmental governance in Laos and Myanmar
Funding source: Japan-ASEAN Platform for Transdisciplinary Studies
Project leader: Miles Kenney-Lazar