International Convention of Asia Scholars

Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC)
456 Changpuak District, Tambon Changpuak,
Meung Chiang Mai, Thailand 50300
Tel: 66(0) 53-010571-3

L’Irasec participe à la dixième session de l’ICAS qui se tient à Chiang Mai avec, d’une part, un stand (stand C3) où sont présentées ses publications et, d’autre part, un groupe de discussion auquel participeront Anne Yvonne Guillou, Abigaël Pesses et Stéphane Rennesson (Panel 287 – 23 juillet à 11h30 – salle 10).

Télécharger le programme.




Convenor: Stphane Rennesson, IRASEC, Thailand
Chair and discussant: Gopa Samanta, The University of Burdwan, India
Institutional panel by: IRASEC


Lately Southeast Asia has been concerned by a dramatic acceleration of territorial planning efforts carried on by governments and private interests: hydroelectric dams, agrarian reforms, land grabbing, forest preservation. This IRASEC institutional panel will reflect upon the implementations of these macro-policies and how all actors involved deal with the consequences of rapid and deep change in their direct environment of living. We shall favor an approach of the territory and its development notably through the concept of landscape. This notion of landscape indeed appeared to us as a relevant transdisciplinary tool to approach the making of territories and their transformation through time by different actors: peasants, urban dwellers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, missionaries and developpers, etc.In order not to limit our analysis to the qualification of landscapes as the result of human action, and with the idea of desanthropocentrisating our thought, we want to take seriously local ontologies and consider non-human potential co-authors of landscapes too : physical forces, supernatural beings, tutelary spirits, wandering ghosts, manifestation of artefacts, animals, plants or even mineral interiorities. The scholars of different academic backgrounds are invited to consider landscapes as dynamic interfaces where the negotiation of dwelling models actually takes place: - What are the local configurations of actors and the local technics of shaping landscapes?- How the non-human are implied in this process?- How the local history and collective memory is recorded in the landscape? - How macro policies do bring alternative modes of shaping territories and empirically impact local subsistence economies and the modes of existence between collectives and species? - How these contrastive ways of shaping landscapes do confront, merge, articulate, overlap, sediment, hybridize or enter into conflict?


Embedded cosmos and forest managements
Abigal Pesses, IRASEC, Thailand

This communication will explore the modes of making and dwelling forest landscapes in Northern Thaland. The notion of landscape will be used here, neither as a subjective representation of a place nor as its objective referents vegetation, mountains, rivers, trees, and buildings -, but as a shape co-produced by different populations of beings inhabiting, interacting and practising a commun environnement.While considering the Karen settlement and technical systems of gardening the forest, traditionaly based on shifting and rice field cultivation, we will focus on the human-spirit relation in the process of shaping and dwelling landscapes. Local conceptions of territory emphasis the presence of a wide range of spirit species : localized tutelary spirits hierarchically ordered ; more nomadic spirits, like ancestors spirits or wandering dead spirits ; and vital flows from animal, human and plants - which circulate across the terrirory. While drawing the shape of the Karen cosmology of landscape, and the ways human and spirit populations individualy or collectivelly domesticate the land through their biographies, ritual and agricultural pratices, we will consider the recent impacts of development programs and the venue of Buddhist and Christian missionnaries on the management of forest ressources. Well examine in particular how the spiritual landscape has been modified by new technics of cultivating and purifying potent places forbidden to exploitation and how these kind of change implied new modes of articulating a territorialised microcosmic social order to more encompassing macrocosmic and political orders.


Dwelling with Nagas and beetles in Thailand
Stéphane Rennesson, IRASEC, Thailand

I would like to sketch the comparison between two unsettling contributions to the shaping of Thai landscapes by two unexpected actors. Nagas on the one side are legendary beings that are particularly worshiped since they are renowned for controlling water movements, notably in North and Northeastern Thailand where some Prince Naga are supposed to have designed the Mekong river, to preside to the flowing of waters hence forcing the seasons rotation. The Rhinoceros beetles on the other side are very famous in the North of the Kingdom. As they are enrolled in a very popular game of which their random behavior is the keystone, they are thought of as a symbol for local wisdom in the terms of a genuine ecological relation to the regional environment. Beetles can act so unpredictably that players are forced in a radical alterity that gives credit in a way to their ability to cooperate with natural forces which are more than often difficult to interpret. As we shall see, the multiple ontologies that players project on them, successively getting interiorities of different nature, or not, mirrors the great variety of Nagas power to transcend realms, in between waters, air and earth, simultaneously or consecutively animal, human and spiritual. Drawing on their specific modes of existence, ritual and playful, how they manifest their interiorities as to say, we shall reflect upon the idea that animals, be they mythological or mere insects, may have a say in the environmental policies.


The integration of a former Khmer Rouge stronghold into the Cambodian national territory. Land management, tourist development and ritual activities
Anne Guillou, French National Center of Scientific Research, Cambodia

Cambodia has experienced huge transformation of its land -tenure and its land use during the last forty years. This presentation will focus on a particular and yet understudied aspect of this change, namely the integration of the former Khmer Rouge guerilla strongholds which have all been placed under the authority of the Cambodian government one after the other a process that came to an end in 1998 following the death of Pol Pot and the last military defeat of the Khmer Rouge guerilla in Anlong Veng (province of Preah Vihear, at the Thai border). Since the early 2000, the use of the land and the landscape is reshaped by interactions at all levels between the land management of the government, the old Khmer Rouge local structure of power and individual newcomers from all over Cambodia seeking for a living and a cheap land to buy. Governmental land management projects include the construction of a road, and the development of tourism around the last Pol Pots stronghold and cenotaph. The former Khmer Rouge continue to form a separated group still faithfull to their communist background while the newcomers try to integrate in their new environment. Drawing on anthropological field research carried on in Anlong Veng in 2011, this presentation shows how rituals and particularly the reference to a particular tutelary spirit called the Black Grandmother is a major language in which strategies over the possession of the land can express themselves.


From a river to a lake: dam building, local memories and transformation of interethnic relationships in Northern Laos
Olivier Evrard,French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, France

My presentation focuses on the Nam Tha dam, in North-West Laos, which is currently under construction by a Lao-Chinese company and will start operating early 2018. It will create a reservoir of 64 square kilometres and flood 32 villages, from Lue, Lao, Khmu and Rmet ethnic groups. More than 10,000 people are currently being resettled and gathered into bigger and multi-ethnic settlements. My paper will first give a general overview of the current hydropower policy of the Lao government and how it differs from previous periods, mainly by its scale (nearly all the tributaries of the Mekong are affected) and by its economic structure (mostly Chinese-owned capital). It will then present the reactions and adaptations of the villagers to these forced migrations as well as the negotiations currently taking place with the local administration and the private company operating the dam. Beyond its immediate socioeconomic consequences, the dam affects the long-term the relation of the people to their environment, stopping fluvial trade and fish migrations. It also devastates their cultural landscape, flooding temples and ritual places and forcing them to imagine a new frame for interethnic relationships.


Local reaction and adaptation to government flood management projects: Water communities of West Bangkok
Prin Jhearmaneechotechai, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

This paper presents the reaction and adaptation of local people to flood infrastructure projects executed by the government along the Khlongs (canals) of West Bangkok. The hydraulic infrastructures generated the huge impact to the water communities which settled harmoniously on the banks of canals for centuries. A part of the paper will clarify how the city evolves in parallel with the water through the evolution of water network since the foundation of the capital at the end of 18th century by the maps. Another part in this paper emphasizes the change of the relation between local communities in the west of Bangkok and water through the changing roles of Khlongs in the metropolitan context, local people along the waterways used to adapt themselves with balance to water and to natural hydrological phenomenon as floods and tides. But the projects of metropolitan flood management have generated the conflicts to existing local settlements. The conclusion of this paper brings to a reflection that reaction and adaptation of local people to the new projects have the certain level of limit. The execution of projects especially related to peoples way of living has to be concerned with the comprehension of local context and history.