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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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       ii 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.       iii 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    iv  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   v  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   vi  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   vii  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   viii APPENDIX D: PARTICIPANT INDEX A........................................................................................... 401  APPENDIX E: PARTICIPANT INDEX B ........................................................................................... 402  APPENDIX F: PARTICIPANT INDEX C............................................................................................ 404  APPENDIX G: ETHICS APPROVAL.................................................................................................... 405                                           ix 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                                         x LIST OF FIGURES  Figure 1.1: Political Map of Cambodia........................................................................................................... 3  Figure 4.1: Neoliberalism as Discourse...................................................................................................... 111                                             xi 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  xii  US – United States of America  WTO – World Trade Organization                                        xiii 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 Bishop- Marko 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,  xiv 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 Glassma