Land reform and the state in Vietnam’s northwestern mountains
A key element in Piers Blaikie and Harold Brookfield’s ‘regional political ecology’ is the notion of marginality, while they further suggest that economic, ecological and political-economic marginality are interconnected in a vicious cycle and that the state assumes a key role in these interactions, discriminating against marginal people and places (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987: 19-23, 17). This chapter subjects Blaikie and Brookfield’s theoretical propositions to empirical testing by way of a case study from Vietnam. Vietnam provides fertile grounds for examining the role of the state in ‘regional political ecology’. Not only does the Vietnamese government continue to proclaim adherence to socialist goals, but also the exercise of state power has undergone drastic change over the past decade and a half. Within a few years the Vietnamese state has radically repositioned itself towards rural people and places in a manner that promises to highlight usually hidden processes of domination and marginalization.