University of Connecticut

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Lecture: John Buchanan

Monday, April 22, 2019
1:00pm – 3:00pm

Storrs Campus
Class of 1947 Room, Babbidge Library

Dr. John Buchanan, Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University's MacMillan Center, will be presenting "Run to the Hills: Opium as Escape Agriculture in Mainland Southeast Asia (1945-1973)”. Abstract listed below:

The agricultural sector of northern Laos, northern Thailand and eastern Burma experienced a dramatic transformation in the post-World War II period. The amount of opium production rose from its pre-war peak of roughly 50 tons to approximately 600 tons by the early 1970s. This boom continued so that by the late 1990s, the region’s output peaked at close to 2,000 tons.

Scholars often regard the growth in production as a response by armed groups to changes in regional markets produced by state-led opium suppression. This paper shifts its analysis from armed groups to farmers. Examining the impact of predation and warfare by state and non-stated armed actors on the livelihoods of farmers, the paper recasts opium as a form of escape agriculture aimed to address concerns about food supply. Engaging newly available archival materials, this research presents an alternative framework for conceptualizing the postwar opium booms as adaptations by peasants to the insecurity caused by armed conflicts and state practices.


Jason Chang,

History Department (primary), Asian American Student Association, Asian American Studies Institute, UConn Master Calendar

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