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Whose Reality Counts? Critical Junctures in Livelihood Trajectories Under Deforestation

Photo: Gregg Travers

Whose Reality Counts? Critical Junctures in Livelihood Trajectories Under Deforestation

New article by Focali member Robin Biddulph and colleague Pelle Amberntsson published in Journal of Economic and Social Geography on livelihood trajectories and deforestation. This study examines livelihood trajectories over two decades in a village affected by deforestation in Northeast Cambodia. The objective was to use quantitative and qualitative methods to identify critical junctures structuring those trajectories. The junctures suggest an analytical framework for understanding deforestation-livelihoods dynamics in other contexts, which can disrupt narrative simplifications associated with community forestry.

Abstract

Livelihoods approaches focus on the poor and their knowledge and agency, but risk underplaying broader contextual forces which constrain and shape that agency. Livelihood trajectories approaches attend more fully to these structural, contextual dynamics. A three-year study using quantitative and qualitative methods investigated livelihood trajectories over two decades in a village affected by deforestation in Northeast Cambodia, and sought to identify critical junctures structuring those trajectories. A timber rush, a land rush, a turn to agriculture and ongoing competition to shape post-forest reterritorialisation were identified as the critical junctures. These transformed the physical environment, and initiated waves of migration which in turn transformed the social and economic structure and everyday life of the village. This valuably disrupts narrative simplifications associated with community forestry. The junctures furthermore suggest an analytical framework for understanding deforestation-livelihoods dynamics in other contexts, thus demonstrating how livelihood trajectories research might contribute to middle-level theory building.

Access the full article here.

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