Rubber and Precarity in Northern Laos and Northern Myanmar

A second article in a special issue on Precarity in Asia has been published. “Precarity and Vulnerability: Rubber Plantations in Northern Laos and Northern Shan State, Myanmar” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1554161) is authored by Kyoko Kusakabe of Gender and Development Studies, Department of Development and Sustainability at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and Aye Chan Myae of Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM) in Yangon, Myanmar.

Rubber plantation, Lashio, Myanmar

The abstract states:

In northern Laos and Northern Shan State in Myanmar, there has occurred a rapid expansion of rubber plantations, both by large economic concessions and by smallholder farmers. The impact of the introduction of rubber differs by place. This article analyses the impact of the introduction of rubber in two villages in Northern Shan State and two in Luang Namtha Province, Lao PDR. We differentiate vulnerability and precarity while assessing the changes that women and men have experienced, which allows us to problematise the long-term vulnerability of seemingly well-adapted farming households. We argue that the strategies that farmers have chosen to improve their situation today will lead to unsustainable livelihoods in the long term. We also link the analysis of vulnerability and precarity to changes in household gender relations. Notwithstanding increased precarity, rising household cash incomes and external support have improved women’s position in some places while hardly affecting gender relations in others.

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