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The Lake Home: International Law and the Global Land Grab

  • Henrietta ZEFFERT (a1)

Home is not a familiar concept in international law. This paper looks at land grabbing and international law from the perspective of home. Through a case-study of a land grab in the context of a World Bank development project at Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it argues that international law is involved in profound transformations of home. By making visible how experiences of loss, suffering, and struggle, as well as radical engagement, emerge from international law’s “homemaking” work, it also argues that the concept of home opens up a terrain of experience that cannot be captured or expressed in international law. The perspective from home in the land-grabbing debate is particularly important where not only is land at risk of capture for economic gain, but so too are the personal lifeworlds that homes represent.

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Lecturer, Centre for Law and Social Justice, School of Law, University of Leeds. I am grateful to Boeung Kak Lake residents, the Housing Rights Task Force in Phnom Penh, Susan Marks, Linda Mulcahy, Nehal Bhuta, and Joseph Spooner for assistance and comments on this paper. The paper was also enriched by discussions with my colleagues on the Max Weber Postdoctoral Programme, European University Institute, Florence, 2016-17.

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Asian Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 2044-2513
  • EISSN: 2044-2521
  • URL: /core/journals/asian-journal-of-international-law
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