Northern Thailand's Specter of Eviction
Author: Andrew Walker; Nicholas Farrelly
Discussions of resource management and development in northern Thailand often emphasize the threat of eviction faced by uplanders living in forest reserve zones. This “specter of eviction” is to be found in official government policy, in academic accounts of highland development, and in the activist writings of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The review of the literature in this article suggests, however, that very few evictions have in fact taken place since the early 1980s and the threat of eviction in accounts written over the past two decades is exaggerated. The authors examine some of the political, practical, and policy reasons why the rate of eviction has been very low. They conclude by arguing that reliance on the specter of eviction by activist academics and NGOs seeking to defend the rights of upland farmers results in a political strategy that is disempowering and disengaged from current livelihood realities.