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Struggling against the Sea in Ban Khun Samut Chin: Environmental Knowledge, Community Identity and Livelihood Strategies in a Village Fighting Severe Coastal Erosion on the Gulf of Thailand

Teamvan, Boontawee (2017) Struggling against the Sea in Ban Khun Samut Chin: Environmental Knowledge, Community Identity and Livelihood Strategies in a Village Fighting Severe Coastal Erosion on the Gulf of Thailand. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This research project investigates how a coastal community in the Upper Gulf of Thailand has been dealing with a local ecological crisis, the rapid erosion of their coastline and potential loss of the entire territory of their village. The case study examines the community’s interactions with development agents and their engagement with broader political and economic forces. Empirically, the thesis is based primarily on participant observation of the community, Ban Khun Samut Chin, supported by extensive documentary research. Applying theoretical frameworks from the fields of political ecology, environmental sociology, and sociology of the self and everyday life, the thesis demonstrates some interesting findings. Firstly, rather than passive victims of national economic development and ecological change, many members of the Ban Khun Samut Chin community have proven to be sophisticated strategic actors. Through interactions with researchers and other external stakeholders, Ban Khun Samut Chin villagers have encountered multiple framings of their situation. This has provided them alternatives for self-understanding and self-representation, and allowed for sophisticated adaptation in the face of a challenging ecological and political environment. Articulating their identity as a self-sufficient, close-knit community, they have taken advantage of the romanticized ideas many of their potential supporters have about them, in order to secure resources for adaptation. The community has even found ways to leverage their ecological crisis in order to generate alternative sources of income, for example through “disaster tourism”. The research explores how individual members of the community have negotiated their own somewhat inconsistent beliefs and hopes, and plans for the future. The research finds that despite their sophisticated understandings of different environmental narratives and possible scenarios for the village, most of the villagers continue to rely on their customary social networks and livelihood skills, as they struggle to adapt.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Tang-Mo Teamvan
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2017 09:25
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2017 09:25
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/18953

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