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Contentious Legal Boundaries: East and Southeast Asian Sovereignty

Fri, April 1, 12:45 to 2:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, 2nd Floor, Room 214

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


This panel focuses on the contentious relationship between land ownership and legal sovereignty in Southeast and East Asia. Using a range of methodological approaches, our papers show how land rights are linked to contestations over political power, rights, and sovereignty, and shed light into how everyday citizens—often politically unrepresented—invoke claims to land rights in order to critique national and international territorial policies. With an eye towards the ongoing legal disputes over territory throughout Southeast and East Asia, along with the continued militarization of spaces throughout the region, a central aim of this panel is to examine the ways that local communities resist and redefine state claims to land and sovereignty

Daro Minarchek uses the Gunung Halimun National Park, Indonesia to examine how one indigenous group, the Kesepuhan people, use the Park’s overlapping legal systems to reassert their land rights. Pepper examines the Thailand-Myanmar border to examine how people who cross the border navigate competing legal systems and status (citizen, migrant, refugee) to show how law “on-the-ground” differs from the law “on-the-books.” Reyes analyzes conflicts over land rights and jurisdiction through the study of the former U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base, Philippines to argue that sovereignty is negotiated, not something countries “have” or “do not have” and that there are multiple types of sovereignties. Wright completes the panel by linking grassroots anti-U.S. base activism in Japan with Japanese-U.S. legal conflicts over land use.

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