Are socialist domestic land grabs egalitarian? Insights from a case involving a rubber plantation in Dien Bien Province, Vietnam

Luu Van Duy, Yuichiro Amekawa, Hiroshi Isoda, Hisako Nomura, Takaaki Watanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper examines the land grab processes dominated by a domestic state-owned enterprise in Vietnam. We examine the case of a rubber plantation in an ethnic minority area in the Northwest of the country. In doing so, the paper seeks to address how the Vietnamese socialist State – often considered a ‘strong state’ because it has pursued egalitarian land distribution policies over the past three decades – proceeds with domestic land grabbing in a context where the local people follow customary land use practices. The field research revealed the following. First, the Vietnamese government, while maintaining land distribution policies for its rural farming population, has increasingly sought to bring these policies more in line with the global trend of large-scale land acquisition at the expense of the traditional interests and livelihoods of the local population. By seeking to justify their essentially non-egalitarian land grab processes through the policy of post-land grab ‘egalitarian land re-distributions’ in areas with disembedded customary control, the domestic state actors deployed a cunning duplicity in their persistent adherence to agrarian egalitarianism. Second, with the supports from the local and central governments, a state-owned enterprise named Vietnam Rubber Group, carved out its land grab processes with more freedom, leverage, and power than similar firms investing abroad through land concessions. Last, the post-land grab redistribution of land rights materializes state formation through re-territorialization of and re-legalization within the frontier zone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
JournalGeoforum
Volume114
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

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