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Neoliberalizing violence : (post)Marxian political economy, poststructuralism, and the production of… Springer, Simon Daniel 2009

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NEOLIBERALIZING VIOLENCE: (POST)MARXIAN POLITICAL ECONOMY, POSTSTRUCTURALISM, AND THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE IN ‘POSTCONFLICT’ CAMBODIA by SIMON DANIEL SPRINGER B.A., University of Northern British Columbia, 2003 M.A., Queen’s University at Kingston, 2005  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Geography)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  May 2009 © Simon Daniel Springer, 2009  ABSTRACT In spite of a United Nations sponsored transition to democracy and peace in the early 1990s, violence remains a ubiquitous feature of the Cambodian landscape in the posttransitional era. Contra the commonplace Orientalist renderings that suggest an inherently violent and authoritarian culture underpins Cambodia’s failure to consolidate democracy and its ongoing encounters with violence, this study advances an alternative interpretation. Combining (post)Marxian and poststructural theoretical approaches, this study proceeds as a (post)anarchist critique through a series of distinct yet thematically connected chapters that examine the intersections between neoliberalism and violence, and the (re)productions of space that both result from and contribute to their entanglement. This critical approach reveals how neoliberalization plays a paramount role in the continuation of violent geographies in Cambodia’s contemporary political economy. The first half of this study theorizes the geographies of neoliberalism and violence through an analysis of the discursive procession of neoliberalism and the imaginative geographies that position it as the sole providence of nonviolence. In orienting itself as a ‘civilizing’ project, neoliberalism as discourse actively manufactures the misrecognition of its violences. Struggles over public space are viewed as a necessary reaction against such symbolic violence, allowing us to relate similar constellations of experiences across space as a potential basis for emancipation, and thereby quicken the pace at which neoliberalism recedes into history. The second half of this study examines the violent geographies of neoliberalism in ‘postconflict’ Cambodia, bringing empirical focus to the (re)visualizations, (re)administrations, and (re)materializations of space that have informed the neoliberalization of violence in the country. The pretext of security under which marketization proceeded, the asphyxiation of democratic politics through ordered productions of space, the discursive obfuscations of the ‘culture of violence’ thesis, and Cambodia’s ongoing encounters with primitive accumulation are all revealed to inform the exceptional and exemplary violences of neoliberalization. Ultimately, this study illuminates the multiplicity of ways in which the processes of neoliberalization are suffused with violence. A critical appraisal of neoliberalism’s capacity for violence can open geographical imaginations to the possibility of (re)producing space in ways that make possible a transformative and emancipatory politics.  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract................................................................................................................................................................ii Table of Contents..............................................................................................................................................iii List of Tables .................................................................................................................................................... ix List of Figures .................................................................................................................................................... x List of Abbreviations ....................................................................................................................................... xi Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................................ xiii Dedication ........................................................................................................................................................ xv  PART 1: INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................................................... 1 CHAPTER 1: Introduction: Setting the Stage for Understanding Cambodia’s Violent Geographies of Neoliberalization ........................................................................................................ 2 1.1 Background and Context...................................................................................................... 2 1.2 Methodological Approach................................................................................................. 16 1.3 Philosophical Positionality ................................................................................................. 27 1.4 Dissertation Breakdown ..................................................................................................... 31 1.5 Notes ..................................................................................................................................... 38 1.6 References............................................................................................................................. 39 PART 2: THEORIZING THE GEOGRAPHIES OF NEOLIBERALISM AND VIOLENCE . 50 CHAPTER 2: The Nonillusory Effects of Neoliberalization: Linking Geographies of Poverty, Inequality, and Violence ...................................................................................................................... 51 2.1 Notes ..................................................................................................................................... 60 2.2 References............................................................................................................................. 61  iii  CHAPTER 3: Public Space as Emancipation: Critical Reflections on Democratic Development, Neoliberalism, and Violence in the Global South ................................................. 65 3.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................ 65 3.2 Democracy as Public Space .............................................................................................. 69 3.2.1 Beyond Civil Society?............................................................................................ 69 3.2.2 The Space of Appearance..................................................................................... 74 3.3 The Contestation of Public Space..................................................................................... 79 3.3.1 Capitalist Machinations......................................................................................... 79 3.3.2 The Disquieting Nexus ......................................................................................... 84 3.4 Conclusion............................................................................................................................ 90 3.5 Notes ..................................................................................................................................... 93 3.6 References............................................................................................................................. 95 CHAPTER 4: Neoliberalism as Discourse: On the Contours of Subjectivation, Good Governance, and Symbolic Violence............................................................................................... 103 4.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 103 4.2 Towards a Neoliberal Discourse: Ideological Hegemonic Project, Policy and Program, State Form, and Governmentality........................................................................ 106 4.3 Dissecting a Neoliberal Agenda: The Rationalities, Strategies, Technologies, and Techniques of Good Governance......................................................................................... 116 4.4 From Good Governance to Symbolic Violence: The Terror (As Usual) of Neoliberalism............................................................................................................................ 123 4.5 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 131 4.6 References........................................................................................................................... 134 CHAPTER 5: Violence Sits in Places? Cultural Practice, Neoliberal Rationalism, and Virulent Imaginative Geographies................................................................................................................... 142 5.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 142  iv  5.2 Poetry after Auschwitz: The Problem of Representing Violence .............................. 145 5.3 Imaginative Bindings of Space: Geography and Narrative ......................................... 148 5.4 The Rationality of Violence: Power, Knowledge, and ‘Truth’.................................... 151 5.5 Forming Reason or Fomenting Orientalism? Neoliberalism and its Discontents... 154 5.6 Neoliberal Salvation? From Mythic to Divine Violence.............................................. 158 5.7 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 161 5.8 Notes ................................................................................................................................... 165 5.9 References........................................................................................................................... 167 PART 3: VIOLENT GEOGRAPHIES OF NEOLIBERALISM IN ‘POSTCONFLICT’ CAMBODIA ................................................................................................................................................. 174 CHAPTER 6: The Neoliberalization of Security and Violence in Cambodia’s Transition..... 175 6.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 175 6.2 Neoliberalizing Human Security...................................................................................... 177 6.3 Opening for Business and the Renewal of Patron–Client Politics............................. 183 6.4 Subverting Democracy in the Name of Market Security............................................. 189 6.5 The Neo-authoritarianism of Neoliberalism ................................................................. 193 6.6 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 199 6.7 Notes ................................................................................................................................... 201 6.8 References........................................................................................................................... 202 CHAPTER 7: Violence, Democracy, and the Neoliberal “Order”: The Contestation of Public Space in Posttransitional Cambodia................................................................................................. 208 7.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 208 7.2 Theorizing Public Space and Violence: Placing Order and Stability in the Neoliberal Context ...................................................................................................................................... 212  v  7.3 Cambodia’s Geopolitical Struggles: From Cold War Proxy to the Washington Consensus ................................................................................................................................. 218 7.4 Legitimizing a Coup d’état: Donor Apathy and the Business of Foreign Aid.......... 222 7.5 Taking Space for Representation: The Democracy Square Movement and the Neoliberal Response................................................................................................................ 227 7.6 Secured Hegemony or Forced Retreat? Demonstrations, Denial, and Democratic Awakening................................................................................................................................. 233 7.7 Beautification and the War on Terror: Covert (Re)Productions of Space as CPP’s New Mode of Control............................................................................................................. 235 7.8 Undermining the Public Trust: The Anti-Thai Riots and RGC’s Renewed Crackdown on Demonstrations.................................................................................................................. 242 7.9 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 245 7.10 Notes................................................................................................................................. 249 7.11 References ........................................................................................................................ 252 CHAPTER 8: Culture of Violence or Violent Orientalism? Neoliberalization and Imagining the ‘Savage Other’ in Posttransitional Cambodia .......................................................................... 263 8.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 263 8.2 Violent Narratives and the Fictions of Neoliberalism ................................................. 267 8.3 Imagining Savagery: Discourses of Denigration and the (Neo)Liberal Peace.......... 272 8.4 Neoliberalizing Peace: The Taming of Cambodia’s ‘Warrior Heritage’ .................... 277 8.5 The Angkorian Present? Temporal Confusions, Spatial Fallacies, and Genetic Mutations .................................................................................................................................. 280 8.6 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 285 8.7 References........................................................................................................................... 288 CHAPTER 9: Violent Accumulation: A (Post)anarchist Critique of Property, Dispossession, and the State of Exception in Neoliberalizing Cambodia ............................................................ 294 9.1 Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 294  vi  9.2 Blood, Fire, and the Zombification of Capital.............................................................. 300 9.3 Illuminating the Dark Matter of Sovereignty ................................................................ 305 9.4 Accumulation by Dispossession as the State of Exception ........................................ 309 9.5 La Grande Danse Macabre .............................................................................................. 312 9.6 Of Black Flags.................................................................................................................... 316 9.7 Conclusion.......................................................................................................................... 319 9.8 Notes ................................................................................................................................... 323 9.9 References........................................................................................................................... 325 PART 4: CONCLUSION............................................................................................................................ 332 CHAPTER 10: Conclusion: The Moment of Neoliberalism and its Exceptional and Exemplary Violence................................................................................................................................................ 333 10.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 333 10.2 Analysis In Light of Current Research on Neoliberalism ......................................... 335 10.3 Neoliberalism with Cambodian Characteristics.......................................................... 338 10.4 Significance, Novelty, and the Relationships Between Chapters ............................. 357 10.5 Dissertation Strengths and Weaknesses....................................................................... 363 10.6 Status of Hypothesis and Future Directions for Research........................................ 366 10.7 Conclusion........................................................................................................................ 370 10.8 Notes................................................................................................................................. 373 10.9 References ........................................................................................................................ 375 APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW GUIDE A............................................................................................... 394 APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW GUIDE B ............................................................................................... 396 APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW GUIDE C ............................................................................................... 399  vii  APPENDIX D: PARTICIPANT INDEX A........................................................................................... 401 APPENDIX E: PARTICIPANT INDEX B ........................................................................................... 402 APPENDIX F: PARTICIPANT INDEX C............................................................................................ 404 APPENDIX G: ETHICS APPROVAL.................................................................................................... 405  viii  LIST OF TABLES Table 7.1: Symptoms of a Weak State........................................................................................................ 232 Table 7.2: Forced Evictions......................................................................................................................... 237 Table 7.3: The Battle of Homelessness and Poverty................................................................................ 241 Table 7.4: Freedom of Assembly under Fire............................................................................................. 245  ix  LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1: Political Map of Cambodia........................................................................................................... 3 Figure 4.1: Neoliberalism as Discourse...................................................................................................... 111  x  LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ADHOC – Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association ASEAN – Association of Southeast Asian Nations BLDP – Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party CFF – Cambodian Freedom Fighters CGDK – Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea CGM – Consultative Group Meeting CNPA – Cambodian National Petroleum Authority CPP – Cambodian People’s Party ESAFs – Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facilities FUNCINPEC – National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Co-operative Cambodia IFIs – International Financial Institutions IMF – International Monetary Fund NGOs – Nongovernmental Organizations NICs – Newly Industrialized Countries PPA – Paris Peace Agreements PRGFs – Poverty Reduction and Growth Facilities RGC – Royal Government of Cambodia SACs - Structural Adjustment Credits SAPs – Structural Adjustment Programmes SOC – State of Cambodia SRP – Sam Rainsy Party UN – United Nations UNTAC – United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia xi  US – United States of America WTO – World Trade Organization  xii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost I would like to thank my family, without whom this project would not have been possible. To the love of my life Marni, you are now and forever the light at the end of the tunnel, the beacon fire in the dark, the glimmer of hope, and truly the meaning of my life. To my daughter Solina and my son Odin, each and every day with you is a beautiful gift. I am so blessed to be your father, and I love you both more than life itself. My Mom and Dad, my brother Steve and his partner Eugenie, my mother-in-law Brenda, and my father-in-law Garry have all been nothing but supportive, and I am extremely grateful to each one of you for your encouragement and for listening to my ideas and helping to shape them. In Cambodia, Phearin, Ty, and Thon were always available to play hacky sack and make jokes whenever I needed to take my mind off of my work. Ly and Peap in Pursat, the Sarin Family in Phnom Penh, and Oun Rithy in Siem Reap continue to be supportive whenever we visit the country. Many meals and good conversation on the ins and outs of life in Phnom Penh were shared with Justin Flurscheim and Joanne Lim. Phon Navin and Kong Sopheak provided invaluable research assistance and language lessons. Doung Samphors, Sdoeung Van Youthea, Van Yuthy, Meas Phanna, Mam Sopeak, Reach Rathany, Van Sopheap, and Im Sothea of the Cambodian Researchers for Development enriched my understandings of a beautiful country in more ways than I can count. And of course I am indebted to all the Cambodians who generously shared their time and experiences with me. In New Zealand, Bianca and Reston Brook, Karen and Phil Willoughby, and Melanie Levinsohn made us feel like we were home during our visit. Back in Vancouver, the BishopMarko family have been wonderful friends and more generous than could ever be expected, opening their home to us when we returned to Canada and had nowhere to live. Phangsy Nou and family in Pitt Meadows have taught me so much about Cambodia, and I am honored to have been a small part in her family’s decision to return to the country they fled nearly 30 years earlier. Igor Gashchuck,  xiii  Ken Meyers, George Tolakis, and Carter Martling receive my thanks for keeping me so well versed in all things Heavy Metal during my time in Cambodia. Philippe Le Billon has been a gracious supervisor, offering much support, advice, and valuable critiques of my work throughout my time at UBC. Jamie Peck came on board a little later in this process, but nonetheless his guidance has been exceptional. Jim Glassman, Derek Gregory, and Sorpong Peou have all offered indispensable and extensive feedback, and their scholarship continues to enlighten and inspire me. Audrey Kobayashi, James Sidaway, Noel Castree, Alison Blunt, Gail Davies, Katie Willis, Anne Godlewska, Peter Goheen, Merjie Kuus, Villia Jefremovas, Trevor Barnes, Gerry Pratt, Andrew McQuade, the participants of the Geographies of Violence: Cultural Approach International Symposium held in Quebec City, 21-24 May 2008, and several anonymous referees have all offered valuable feedback on the various different chapters included in this dissertation, or on important parts of their arguments. Barry Riddell and Catherine Nolin continue to support me with a great sense of enthusiasm in all my scholarly pursuits, commenting on my work when needed and encouraging me to strive for excellence. Gordon Longmuir has always given me much to think about, and I am grateful for him sharing his perspectives on Cambodia with me. Whenever I feel the urge to vent against authority in all its institutionalized ‘glory’, Sarah de Leeuw is my right hand woman. Brendan Sweeny and Ian Baird are always great to sit down with and talk to about life as a graduate student. My own undergraduate students in GEOG 362 were wonderful, patient, and thoughtful ‘test subjects’ during my inaugural run as a lecturer. Finally, I would like to thank Shirlena Huang, Henry Yeung, Carl Grundy-Warr, and Godfrey Yeung for offering me such an amazing opportunity to join the faculty in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, and in so doing, providing much motivation in the final push to see this project to its completion.  xiv  For Marni, Solina, and Odin  xv  PART 1: INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Setting the Stage for Understanding Cambodia’s Violent Geographies of Neoliberalization Democracy don’t rule the world, you’d better get that in your head. This world is ruled by violence, but I guess that’s better left unsaid. -Bob Dylan, Union Sundown The old embrace dying, the young embrace crying, the evil embrace violence. -Cambodian Proverb  1.1  Background and Context  The small Southeast Asian country of Cambodia (see Figure 1.1) has had a tumultuous recent history. Thirty years of war during the latter part of the twentieth century has had an enduring effect on the collective memory of Cambodians. The psychological scarring and unspeakable suffering caused by the infamous Khmer Rouge (aka the Communist Party of Kampuchea) and their threeyear, eight-month, and twenty-one-day reign of terror in the late 1970s is a national commonality. In