Kearrin Sims (University of Western Sydney, Australia), Raising Homes for a Rising Asia: Development-induced-displacement and Regionalism in Laos., English/24 Pages, June 2013.

Abstract

It is widely agreed that much of Asia’s rise over the past two decades has been built around the regions increasing connectivity. Far less attention has been given, however, to the implications of new mobility flows on the millions of people throughout Asia who remain, for the most part, bound to place. With a focus on Laos, a land-locked and ‘least developed’ country that has until recently remained largely isolated from transnational flows, this paper considers how growing regional connectivity’s are reconfiguring, and in some cases destroying, local communities. In examining this problem two key issues are addressed. First is the concern that Laos is becoming a ‘corridor country’ or a space of ‘non-places’ to be passed through, but not to dwell. Second is the widespread displacement and resettlement of local communities that is occurring in the country’s urban nodes as a result of processes of ‘development’ and modernization. As infrastructure upgrades continue to bring new forms of transnational exchange into Laos, people’s homes are being destroyed and local communities are being broken apart by resettlement programs that show little consideration to the social and cultural relationships, the sense of belonging, or the affinity to particular landscapes that make up a sense of ‘home’. Place is being reconfigured by space, the fixed is becoming increasingly fluid, and those not able to move along regional networks are finding themselves increasingly marginalized in order to make way for connectivity. In the wake of these transformations it is important to consider if there is a place for being ‘at home’ in a space of flows, networks and nodes and who is it that such landscapes of connectivity benefit and disadvantage.