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CSEAS Talk: Kevin Woods on “Conflict Rubber”

When & Where

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 from 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319

About the Talk: “Conflict Rubber” as the Spearhead of the State in a Post-Conflict Context in Southeastern Myanmar

rubber plantationThis paper presentation, based on field research data from 2015 and 2016, demonstrates that smallholder rubber expansion in a post-conflict setting in northern Tanintharyi Region in southeastern Myanmar has further fueled minority land displacement and erased historical land claims for those previously forcibly removed by the military. Mon minority rubber smallholders supported by their Mon rebel group have extensively planted rubber in Karen minority territory, which has caused Karen villagers to be permanently displaced and, as a result, their associated Karen rebel group. Rubber expansion in a post-conflict territory has facilitated bringing in Myanmar’s military officers and agricultural officials into contested rebel territory, and increased conflict between one rebel group over another. Formalizing land claims through rubber plantation development before any resolution of land-related conflict after decades of war undermines possibilities for post-conflict reconciliation and the restitution of land. Efforts underway to “green” Myanmar’s export rubber supply chain should (a) consider concrete social and political dynamics involved in rubber plantation establishment, not simply the business models, production practices, and deforestation involved; and (b) increase public understanding of Myanmar’s rubber supply chain to ensure conflict rubber does not end up on the global market.

About the Speaker

Kevin M. Woods, Ph.D., East-West Center Visiting Scholar

Kevin WoodsKevin Woods recently completed his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley on the politics of contemporary land and resource reforms in ethnic conflict areas in Myanmar. He has fifteen years of applied research experience in the country. His academic publications include an article in JPS on “ceasefire capitalism,” a forthcoming article in Territory, Politics, Governance on Chinese agribusiness investment with narco-militias in Myanmar, and a forthcoming edited book volume with Philip Hirsch on “turning land into capital” in the Mekong Region with the University of Washington Press. He is senior policy analyst for Forest Trends in Washington DC, where he manages the Myanmar program on resource governance decentralization and peace building. He is currently a visiting scholar at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.