The Australian National University
What's On @ ANU
Printer Friendly Version

Billboard Event
Illicit flows and criminal things in the borderlands of the Golden Triangle: The other side of the Greater Mekong Sub-region

Since the end of the Cold War, the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) has witnessed the revival of the ancient caravan trade routes and networks which once traversed mainland Southeast Asia. In the region’s uplands, where Burma, Thailand and Laos intersect in the junctures of the notorious Golden Triangle, massive Chinese investment and migration have reshaped local political economies.

Drawing on Willem van Schendel’s work on “Illicit flows and criminal things”, this presentation explores the ways in which the world’s second largest drug producing area has restructured into a series of tourism and casino hubs under the banner of the GMS’ special economic zones (SEZs). Frequently viewed as Chinese enclaves and lawless domains, this paper argues that this borderlands region is in fact a site of fervent local state activity and intentionality, key planks in state efforts at consolidating lowland rule and extending state sovereignty. Contrary to common assumptions, this study of the Golden Triangle SEZ demonstrates that Southeast Asian states are far from helpless spectators and passive victims within the broader expansion of Chinese capital and migration, informal economy and illegal practices permeating the region.

Based on my PhD research and recent fieldwork, I foreground the critical role played by borderlands and transnational networks in constructing alternative accounts of region-building and state formation processes. I will demonstrate the way in which local lowland states strategically leverage Chinese presence and activity in the borderland SEZs in order to domesticate their “barbarian” peripheries.

Speaker/Host: Dr Danielle Tan
Venue: PSC Reading Room, 4.27 Level 4 Hedley Bull Building, ANU.
Date: Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Enquiries: Dr Danielle Tan on 6125 8166, Julie Fitzgibbon on 6125 4790
Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy | Contact ANU