Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Justice for the Poor

This work on an exploratory study of collective grievances over land and local governance in Cambodia takes social tensions and the localities in which they arise as the starting point for its analysis that the quest for justice must commence with the consideration of existing relations at the local level. Using a comparative case study methodology, it attempts to shed light on the relationships between power and law which emerge around issues of justice in Cambodia. This paper builds on a number of previous anthropological studies dealing with issues of dispute resolution in Cambodian villages. The authors point out that opinions as to the associative capabilities of Cambodian villagers are mixed. There are two main schools of thought. On the one hand, it has been argued that social relations in rural Cambodia are fundamentally atomized, whether because of the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, the ensuing civil war or the underlying characteristics of traditional patronage relationships. On the other hand, recent years have also produced a body of evidence that rural Cambodia is experiencing a renewal of associational activity suggestive of a stronger capacity for collective action. In any case, it is clear that these issues require further research; it is hoped that this study will represent a useful contribution in this respect. In trying to generate a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which this process might be supported, the authors of this report have taken.

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