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Natural Potency and Political PowerForests and State Authority in Contemporary Laos$
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Sarinda Singh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835712

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835712.001.0001

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Debating the forest

Debating the forest

(p.102) 5 Debating the forest
Natural Potency and Political Power

Sarinda Singh

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines forest decline and the importance of forest resources for the Lao economy. It first considers forest degradation and fragmentation in Laos and goes on to discuss two contrasting themes concerning forest resources that can be discerned in both rural and urban narratives: one depicts decline, and the other depicts continued abundance. It argues that these contrasting descriptions of forests essentially constitute debates about the state and its achievements. It then discusses some practices of illegal logging of luxury timber in Nakai, along with attempts to institute forms of community forestry in Laos that facilitate active involvement of villagers in forest management. It also explores how the state's role as forest manager for the nation is implicated in official and unofficial discourses about forests. Finally, it analyzes how forest resources signify the interrelations between prosperity and social hierarchy in Laos.

Keywords:   forest decline, forest resources, Lao economy, Laos, forests, illegal logging, community forestry, forest management, prosperity, social hierarchy

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