Rural place-making, globalization and the extractive sector: Insights from gold mining areas in Kratie and Ratanakiri, Cambodia

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There has recently been much debate about the ways in which place-based research should contextualize rural land use disputes in relation to economic globalization. This article analyzes how changing hybrid configurations of global and regional influences in Cambodia's extractive sector have transformed the dilemmas of rural place-making, focussing on two cases – a Chinese mining company's concession in Kratie and an Australian mining company's concession in Ratanakiri. Addressing contexts where resource access has been contested by local Khmer small-scale gold mining communities, migrant miners and foreign-owned companies, the case studies illustrate how globalization pressures have been experienced differently. The cases also highlight analytic weaknesses of dominant development narratives that focus narrowly on local illegal land use and the need for resettlement of communities living and working in large companies' concessions. The article introduces a framework of three inter-related themes that encourage a more sensitive interpretation of extractive sector contestations under globalization, calling for critically engaging divergent interpretations of “illegality” in resource use, exploring the dynamic interactions between global and regional actors, and carefully considering small-scale miners' socioeconomic and historical connections to rural places. As this is the first study in almost a decade to focus on social dimensions of Cambodia's mining industry, the article concludes by suggesting how place-based research attuned to ever-changing faces of globalization can deepen understandings of socioeconomic marginalization and transformation in Cambodia's mineral-rich areas and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-310
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014


  • rural place-making
  • rural land use dispute
  • globalization
  • extractive industries
  • small-scale mining
  • Cambodia


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