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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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Concealing forest decline

Concealing forest decline

(p.130) 6 Concealing forest decline
Natural Potency and Political Power

Sarinda Singh

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines some of the practices that attempt to deflect attention away from the Lao state's poor performance in managing the nation's forests. In particular, it considers three ways by which the Lao state counters the discourse of forest decline. First, the state's responsibility for forest decline is countered by attempts to make authority less discernible. Second, the state admits forest decline in Laos but attributes it to rural villagers through a focus on swidden cultivation and, to a lesser extent, deficiencies in reforestation. Third, conservation initiatives are misrepresented and subverted to direct attention away from state actions. The chapter discusses the implications of these forms of misdirection for donor–state relations and state–society relations. It argues that forest decline challenges state authority as it reflects social disparities that question the common endeavor of the nation.

Keywords:   forests, Lao state, forest decline, Laos, rural villagers, swidden cultivation, reforestation, conservation, state authority

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