chapter  11
22 Pages

Seeing ‘water blindness’: water control in agricultural intensification and environmental change in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam


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The study of land, its development, degradation and control, has been central to research on rural development and environmental change. Harold Brookfield has made a notable contribution to this and to our understanding of the political dimensions of society-environment relations. Although Brookfield addresses social and environmental aspects of water control, for instance with reference to the concept of ‘landesque capital’ (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987; Brookfield 2001), his contribution to the study of land has had a more enduring influence on rural development, environmental studies and political ecology. The focus on landbased issues has partially obscured a consideration of the role of water in society, yet water control is a key determinant in the process of agricultural intensification, and unequal access to water can be a significant factor in social differentiation.