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Working Group Socio-Economics of Forest Use in the Tropics and Subtropics
The area that was declared Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in 1974 is inhabited by people of the Karen ethnic minority group since at least 200 years. With the nomination as a World Heritage Site in 1991, the resettlement of the Karen villages became a political issue of national concern. Within the present discourse on 'people and forests' in Thailand the Karen in Thung Yai, on the one hand, are quoted for the position that human forest use and conservation of forests may well go together. On the other hand their situation and status in the sanctuary is very much at risk. The Royal Forest Department (RFD) requests their resettlement, and imposes restrictions on their traditional land use system. Since 1999 the situation for the Karen in the sanctuary is even worsening, as the RFD and the Military are trying to induce them to resettle 'voluntarily', using violence and terror.
The recent events of coercion and terror towards the Karen in Thung Yai reflect forest policies concentrating on the establishment of a Protected Area System preferably free of human interferences. Referring to nationalist and ethnicist sentiments, these conservation policies focus on the exclusion of so-called 'hill tribes'.
After sketching the historical and political contexts of the conflict, this paper will concentrate on the 'internal' transformations and adaptations in the Karen communities in Thung Yai over the last 40 years. These internal changes in response to national integration and modernization, it is argued, reflects so far successful efforts of the Karen in Thung Yai to defend a specific local identity and way of life against various external challenges. The restrictions on their land use system, and even more so their eviction, most probably, will overtax their capability to balance change and identity, 'tradition' and 'modernity'.
|SWD-Schlagwörter:||Thailand , Weltnaturerbe , Karen , Kulturwandel , Kulturelle Identität|
|Freie Schlagwörter (deutsch):||Transkultureller Widerstand , Lokale Identität , Ahnenkult|
|Freie Schlagwörter (englisch):||World Heritage site , Identity , Local resistance , Globalization , Ethnicism|
|Institut:||Working Group Socio-Economics of Forest Use in The Tropics and Subtropics|
|Schriftenreihe:||SEFUT Working Paper|