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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Peasant Studies
Title of proceedings Journal of Peasant Studies
DOI 10.1080/03066150.2022.202984

Open Access

Type of Open Access Green OA Embargo (Freely available via Repository after an embargo)


Commodity booms can lead to intense pressure to access land resources. We investigate a case in which villagers, far from being passive victims of land grabs, acquire land themselves by navigating between customary institutions and state policies seeking to foster a forest transition and rural development. Based on fieldwork in an upland forest-rich commune in Central Vietnam, we describe specific mechanisms of enclosure, encroachment, theft, and re-claiming by which villagers re-territorialize forest spaces to their advantage. These mechanisms change and adapt over time, notably in response to a closing of the forest frontier, illustrating the challenges facing locals seeking livelihoods and state officials managing forests. The paper challenges dominant assumptions about local villagers’ positionality in the global land rush and calls for rethinking the nature of contemporary peasant politics worldwide.