Abstract

Abstract:

This article deals with the allocation of access to alluvial land (kaing" myei) and island (myei-nu'kyun" or kaing"kyun") on the Ayeyarwady River. Alluvial land, depicted as very fertile, is often the ground of disputes between neighboring settlements. Building on fieldwork in Pyitawtha, an island-village, I critically reflect on how inhabitants' gain access and maintain their access to these always-shifting lands. Focusing on empirical findings, I show that the ability of local inhabitants to access newly formed alluvial land does not reflect a mere grasping or seizing of opportunities, following land accretion and erosion, but reflects a tactical work of construction and maintenance of access. Tactics reviewed in this article include predatory attitudes, subtle compromise, the purchase of land rights and occasional collaboration with authorities. By navigating into the gaps and ambiguities of law application and anticipating on alterations and transformations in their physical environment, villagers preemptively deploy tactics to hold onto the land. A critical analysis of local land practices helps to develop a better understanding of the ways these unstable lands are actively turned into resources, becoming a constant site of possession and dispossession.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2010-314X
Print ISSN
1094-799X
Pages
pp. 37-78
Launched on MUSE
2020-05-14
Open Access
No
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