Life, Fish and Mangroves
I was introduced to south-western Cambodia as a graduate student in the late 1990s, continued on as a practitioner facilitating natural resource management activities, became interested in commons dilemmas, livelihoods and resource governance, and am now an academic. This experience culminated in my book Life, Fish and Mangroves: Resource governance in coastal Cambodia (U Ottawa Press, 2012).
Life, Fish and Mangroves explores the potential of resource governance, offering a detailed case study of resource-dependent village life. Following six households and one village-based institution in coastal Cambodia over a 12-year period, the opportunities and constraints facing villagers are examined. Here local resource management practices remain delicate, even with a significant, sustained effort; moreover, government and business interests in community-based management and resource exploitation combine to produce a complex, highly uncertain dynamic. In spite of a significant effort, spanning many years and engaging many players, resource governance remains fragile and coastal livelihoods in Cambodia remain precarious. Policy uptake is not always possible in Cambodia’s current context.
Post Life, Fish and Mangroves
Annual or biennial visits to coastal Cambodia continue to inform my empirical work and ground my theoretical thinking. After completing research for Life, Fish and Mangroves, I worked with Cambodian colleagues to explore how local institutions are able to respond to on-going environmental change being experienced in this area (see Marschke et al. 2014), and have taken an interest in the sand mining efforts that have intensified near the villages in and around one coastal protected area. With my graduate students, I am currently pursuing the role of individual and household migration within these fishing villages, and, more generally, rural-urban transformations in Koh Kong province.