Revisiting Rural Places: Pathways to Poverty and Prosperity in Southeast Asia
440pp. May 2012
Revisiting Rural Places: Pathways to Poverty and Prosperity in Southeast Asia
Editor: Rigg, Jonathan; Vandergeest, Peter;
In Revisiting Agrarian Transformations, scholars of agrarian change return to sites of their earlier research in Southeast Asia to examine how the rapid pace of change in the countryside is affecting the places, spaces and people that they originally studied, sometimes as long as four decades ago. Each of the 14 core chapters is organized around a change that, based on broader trends, the authors did not anticipate: a new longhouse in Sarawak, the urban forests of Java, the assertion of an ethnic minority identity in Northern Thailand. the re-shaping of class relations and identities in the Philippines, and the uncontested sell-off of farmland to cacao entrepreneurs in Sulawesi. These outcomes pose a challenge to conventional understandings of how the countryside is being re-shaped, and to what effect.

The accounts in this volume map out diverse pathways to poverty and prosperity. Families who seemed trapped in poverty decades ago were found to be prospering after taking advantage of non-farm and educational opportunities. Others had unexpectedly been thrust into relative deprivation, pushed aside by industrial agriculture, rural industrialization, or destructive natural resource extraction.

Drawing on a number of disciplinary traditions and using field approaches honed over decades of research, the authors in this volume reassess traditional village studies, analyses of agrarian class formation, accounts of community forestry and fishing, and explanations of the implications of rural-urban migration for livelihoods and family relations. The breadth of the material makes this unique and exceptionally rich account of rural change a valuable classroom tool as well as an important source of information for a broad spectrum of institutions and other stakeholders, from the World Bank to NGOs and rural activists.

Contributors: Raiha Ahmat, Christine Bonnin, Michel Bruneau, Robert Cramb, Rodolphe de Koninck, Phil Hirsch, Philip Kelly, Tania Li, Melissa Marschke, Nancy Lee Peluso, Agus Budi Purwanto, Jonathan Rigg, Albert Salamanca, Steffanie Scott, Pujo Semedi, Edi Suprapto, Sarah Turner, Peter Vandergeest, Chusak Withayapak.

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“At a rich, qualitative level, Revisiting Rural Places provides an invaluable index of and a wealth of insight into both the transformations that have taken place across Southeast Asia over the past several decades and of the present albeit diverse state of affairs in rural places around the region. Researchers interested in such places will want to read this book closely, both for the insight it provides and for the questions that it opens up.” —New Mandala (October 2012)
Editor: Rigg, Jonathan; Vandergeest, Peter;
Jonathan Rigg is professor of geography at Durham University and has been researching rural transformations in Southeast Asia and associated issues for some 30 years. Peter Vandergeest is associate professor of geography at York University and has been researching agrarian and environmental histories in Southeast Asia since 1984.