Revisiting Rural Places: Pathways to Poverty and Prosperity in Southeast Asia

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Edited by Jonathan Rigg and Peter Vandergeest

In Revisiting Rural Places, scholars return to sites of their earlier research in Southeast Asia to examine how the rapid pace of change in the countryside affected places, spaces and people that they originally studied decades ago. Each of the 14 core chapters is organized around a change that, based on broader trends, the authors did not anticipate: a new longhouse in Sarawak, the urban forests of Java, the assertion of an ethnic minority identity in Northern Thailand, the re-shaping of class relations and identities in the Philippines, and the uncontested sell-off of farmland to cacao entrepreneurs in Sulawesi. These outcomes pose a challenge to conventional understandings of how the countryside is being re-shaped, and to what effect.

The accounts in this volume map out diverse pathways to poverty or prosperity. Families who seemed trapped in poverty decades ago have prospered owing to non-farm and educational opportunities. Others have unexpectedly been thrust into relative deprivation by industrial agriculture, rural industrialization, or destructive natural resource extraction. The breadth of the material makes this unique and exceptionally rich account of rural change a valuable classroom tool as well as an important source of information for a broad spectrum of institutions and other stakeholders, from the World Bank to NGOs and rural activists.


"...The 14 case-study chapters include some exceptionally interesting and thoughtprovoking case studies, which any researcher embarking on rural research in Southeast Asia would do well to read." - Ben White

"Revisiting Rural Places should become an essential reference text for researchers who work on social, cultural, political and economic change in Asia and elsewhere...At a rich, qualitative level, Revisiting Rural Places provides an invaluable index of and a wealth of insight into both the transformations that have taken place across Southeast Asia over the past several decades and of the present albeit diverse state of affairs in rural places around the region. Researchers interested in such places will want to read this book closely, both for the insight it provides and for the questions that it opens up." - Eric C. Thompson


Jonathan RIGG is Professor of Geography at Durham University and has been researching rural transformations in Southeast Asia and associated issues for some 30 years.

Peter VANDERGEEST is Associate Professor of Geography at York University and has been researching agrarian and environmental histories in Southeast Asia since 1984.


Challenges of Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia (ChATSEA)
Publication Year: 2012
376 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-557-6, Paperback

NUS Press