Session Abstract: Historically, borderlands in East and Southeast Asia have featured in national imaginaries as peripheral spaces of otherness while also serving as sites of exchange, refuge, and exceptions to state/polity rule. Today, borderlands in this region have a renewed place in the imaginings of states and local and transnational economies. This includes the identification of borderlands as sites in regional trade and transportation networks, the establishment of export processing zones along geographic boundaries, and the exploitation of environmental resources across local and national boundaries. Such transformations have implications for borderland environments, for socio-cultural dynamics, the lives of people inhabiting and transiting through these spaces, state labor regimes, as well as for the interactions between market forces and state and non-state regional actors. In addition, the re-imagining of borderland spaces has engendered policies and practices that affect modes of governance and livelihood, that foster new forms of connectivity, and that precipitate alternative modes of survival, resistance, and order-making among populations grappling with dislocation. The papers in this panel address these topics from cross-disciplinary perspectives along a wide range of themes. These include Martin Fromm’s recent history of forest conservation projects along China’s northeast borderland with Russia and Téphanie Sieng’s ethnography of ethnic Tampuan resistance to the Cambodian state’s efforts to modernize and homogenize their northeast borderland. Juliet Lu situates China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the ongoing “global land grab” within longer historical processes along the Sino-Lao border, and Adam Saltsman analyzes cross-border conflict mediation among Burmese labor migrants in western Thailand.
Paper Presenter: Adam Saltsman – Worcester State University
Paper Presenter: Juliet Lu – Cornell University
Paper Presenter: Martin Fromm – Worcester State University
Paper Presenter: Téphanie Sieng – Université Sorbonne Paris-Cité