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The boeung : a sensitive common threatened by uncertainty in intensification process

Abstract : After the Khmer Rouge regime a period of far-reaching national construction saw Cambodia embrace the “modern water” paradigm (Linton 2010). This happened through the modernization of hydraulic infrastructures with the support of international donors. In a context where water is sometimes overabundant and sometimes in deficit, the State's objective was to fully control water resources and orchestrate water abundance to increase agricultural productivity (Bookchin 1977). This “modernization” aimed as much as it led Cambodia to join a dynamic of globalization driving local farmers to embrace a search for increasing the production of unprocessed products destined for export to the sub-region or to Europe. Downstream of Phnom Penh, water control can be considered as a poison and an antidote (Bookchin 1977). It must be evacuated as soon as possible during the rainy season to limit the impact of floods but, at the same time, there is a need to store water for dry season cultivation. This pharmacone of Homer's mythology has lead to lose sight of the unifying role of water as the rehabilitation of earthen canals, locally called Preks, has translated into the establishment of physical barriers in an otherwise continuous landscape, leading to individualization of practices and a threat to the commons. The area located downstream of Phnom Penh lies between the Bassac and the Mekong river that both flow southwards. Perpendicular to the rivers are “preks” that cut through a landscape made of two main “use-units’. Close to the river bank, the first area, chamkar, is slightly elevated and rarely flooded; further, the boeung, is a floodplain in which several preks drain. Previously, small scale infrastructure called for collective management of resources. However, the intensification of production is nowadays reflected in the cultivation of high-value crops (fruit trees, vegetables, etc.) in a Chamkar area that needs to be ‘flood-proofed’, severing it from a boeung that is progressively being transformed from a place of temporal multiple-use (fishing and rice farming) to an area where farmers attempts to grow two rice crops a year, despite the risk of floods The quest for total water control jeopardizes the multiple-use nature of this territory, leading to the exclusion of certain communities. By developing a participatory approach called Companion Modeling (ComMod; Etienne et al. 2013), we explore the socio-spatial dynamics at work in this iconic territory. We highlight the need to reconsider socio-environmental solidarity within the prek unit, but also the need to think collectively beyond the community. References : Bookchin, Murray. Post-Scarcity Anarchism. 2. ed. Black Rose Books, No. 071. Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1977. Etienne, Michel, et Collectif. Companion Modeling: A Participatory Approach to Support Sustainable Development. Springer Science & Business Media, 2013. Linton, Jamie. What Is Water?: The History of a Modern Abstraction. UBC Press, 2010.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02175990
Contributor : Etienne Delay <>
Submitted on : Saturday, July 6, 2019 - 11:08:51 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 3:40:38 AM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-02175990, version 1

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Etienne Delay, W. Dare, Jean-Philippe Venot, Malyne Neang, Sophak Seng. The boeung : a sensitive common threatened by uncertainty in intensification process. XVII Biennial IASC Conference, Jul 2019, Lima, Peru. ⟨halshs-02175990⟩

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