AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 736

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Session 736: Everyday Politics, Globalization and Local Communities: The Impact of Globalization and Responses of Selected Communities in the Philippines and Thailand

Organizer: Maria Ela Atienza, University of the Philippines, Philippines

This panel presents three cases from a project examining the impact of and responses to globalization of selected local communities in the Philippines and Thailand. The research, undertaken under the auspices of the University of the Philippines’ Third World Studies Center in collaboration with Chulalongkorn University, is not only confined to the study of the economic effects of globalization on local communities but also other dimensions. Using “everyday politics” as a framework of analysis, this research also looks into the courses of action taken by people and civil society groups in the communities in response to the effects of globalization. The capability of local governments to articulate the interests of communities in national government policy-making forums is also examined. A comparative study of the experiences of the localities in the two countries is also undertaken. As most studies focus on the economic impacts, the process by which local communities react to the effects of globalization remains an under-researched area of study. The panel therefore attempts to fill this gap. As the local government is also studied, the research provides insights as to the potential and limitations of this unit in articulating the interests of communities in national government policy-making forums vis-à-vis issues related to globalization. The research also contributes to the globalization discourse in locating the roles of local governments and communities amidst the globalization conundrum. Often, studies deal with the national government and policies but rarely on the local.

Framework for the Study of Everyday Politics
Eduardo C. Tadem, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Philippines

“Everyday politics” or “politics in everyday life” entails looking at politics in a broad sense to include a much wider section of the population rather than the conventional view which limits politics to the actions of politicians, government bureaucrats, and other leaders or to activities like elections and organized protests” (Kerkvliet 1991). Politics pervades the daily lives of people wherever and whenever they come together and interact with each other. This is applicable whenever the control and distribution of resources are at stake and irrespective of major events and outside the realm of institutions. This paper looks at two aspects of the study of everyday politics with special focus on a rural setting. The first is the approach utilizing “social history and history from below” and the second is the standpoint of “everyday forms of peasant resistance.” While both approaches are useful in looking at everyday politics, the paper also urges caution in using them so as not to overestimate their importance. Finally, the paper briefly looks at how the framework was used in four case studies of everyday politics in a rural context in the Philippines and Thailand. The studies show the efficacy of the framework in looking at the everyday lives and struggles of local communities. They also reveal that people’s lives, individually or as communities, and not just institutions, are important in understanding and analyzing the human polity.

Globalization and Agricultural Communities: Varying Community Responses to the Patenting of Plant Varieties in Bilar, Bohol
Maria Ela Atienza, University of the Philippines, Philippines

This paper examines the impact of globalization and the responses of farming communities in Bilar, a municipality in the province of Bohol, Philippines. In particular, it looks at the impact of the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act of 2002, one of the Philippine government’s commitments to the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights. It also looks into and assesses the courses of action taken by farmers, civil society groups, and local governments in response to the effects of the law. Furthermore, the study attempts to provide a “history from below” based on the narratives of ordinary people as they share how they have lived their lives and how and why their experiences and behavior have (or have not) changed over time within the context of a globalizing environment. The relationship of globalization and local communities is not straightforward. In Bilar, globalization only has an indirect impact on farmers. In areas organized by a non-government organization (NGO), it was the NGO that familiarized the farmers with the PVP law and organized them to resist it in a creative way to protect small farmers’ interests and culture. In the case of areas not organized by the NGO, farmers continue with their traditional farming practices mainly because the weak Philippine state structures are unable to implement the law effectively at the local level. This finding is interesting as weak state implementation of a law promoting globalization gives farmers some opening to continue their old system.

Liberalizing the Mining Industry: The Experience of Communities in Rapu-Rapu, Albay
Ruth Lusterio-Rico, University of the Philippines, Philippines

The impact of the dynamics of globalization has been felt in various ways by states, communities and peoples especially over the past two decades. The Philippines has not been exempt to this. In the 1990s, the government of the Philippines passed a law that essentially liberalized the mining industry in the country. The Philippine Mining Act of 1995 was enacted in view of the government's desire to spur the country's economic growth. The law effectively liberalized the mining industry by allowing foreign investors to engage in mining operations in the country. While mining can promise economic benefits and development for the country and even communities, there are definitely questions about its negative consequences, specifically on the environment and human security. This paper describes the consequences of mining in communities that have been long time hosts to this extractive activity. It focuses on the experience of communities in the island of Rapu-Rapu, Albay in the Philippines. The study tackles how community residents view mining and its consequences for them, their lives and their communities. More specifically, the following questions are addressed: (1) How has globalization, indicated by the liberalization of the mining industry and the implementation of the Mining Act, affected local communities?; (2) In what ways have people responded to mining and the implementation of the law?; and (3) What is the dynamics between community residents, local government officials, civil society actors, mining companies, and agencies of the national government in relation to the implementation of the Mining Act?

Impact of Globalization on a Border Community: A Study of Politics of Identity in Southern Thailand, Betong District
Chantana Banpasirichote Wungaeo, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

The study aims to explore natural conditions of a changing community at the periphery of Thailand as the country moves toward globalization. While the southern most provinces have undergone new forms of violent conflicts, the issue of Malay and Islam identity in relation to state dominance has been much debated. To shed light on changing ethnic identity, this paper intends to reveal the aspects of globalization manifest in local community, the changing perceptions of ethnic identity under the emerging globalization context, and the responses of local people and the community to the challenges of globalization. The manifestation of globalization in Betong is not very typical because it has not faced intense globalizing forces of liberalized economy, and so social conflict was not directly observed. The clearer market-driven force of change is the expansion of media and telecommunication consumption and the new wave of population mobility from neighboring countries. The influence of transnational social and cultural movements can be seen, such as Chinese language and culture and Islamic revivalist movement. Generations change toward more cultural integration, particularly between Chinese and Thais. Religion remains a strong factor of identity compared to traditions and languages. Finally, the local government aims to be part of a greater market community to promote economic growth using cultural capital specific of Betong. The local government has constructed Betong identity and opted for the politics of cooperation to take defense against globalization and to manage social cohesion among different ethnic and religion identities.