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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - CAPRi Workshop on Collective Action, Property Rights and Conflict in Natural Resources Management, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Title Community Forestry in Cease-Fire Zones in Kachin State, Northern Burma: Formalizing Collective Property in Contested Ethnic Areas
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
URL https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/29f0/dbf98984c9e28dc2bda840e551c52f9dfa12.pdf
Community forests (CFs) in northern Burma have been gaining momentum since the mid-2000s,
spearheaded by national NGOs, mostly in response to protect village land from encroaching
agribusiness concessions. While the production of these new CF landscapes represents the material
resistance against state-sponsored rubber, in effect it produces contested state authority by
formalizing control of former customary swidden hills under the Forestry Department. The CF land
management plans mirror state land classification schemes that delineate between „forest‟ and
„agriculture‟ land uses, in stark contrast to traditional land management practices. For instances of
post-war zones with continued contentious state authority, as is the case in Burma, rebuilding statesociety
resource relations and institutions present new challenges beyond the more narrow
environmental conflict framework. This ethnographic case study challenges the “subsistence wars”
premise, calls for in-depth area studies to understand the deep historical and political conflict driving
so-called resource wars, and argues against the tendency to „aboralize‟ and „tribalize‟ indigenous
people through collective forest management interventions. Overall this paper challenges several
assumptions with advocating for collective property management as a conflict mediation strategy, and
underscores the importance of development projects taking into account new forms of power and
authority in post-war/conflict zones.

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