Edited by Shannon O’Lear
Chapter 9: Environmental geopolitics of rumor: the sociality of uncertainty during northern Thailand’s smoky season
In this chapter we bring emerging work on the environmental geopolitics of air pollution and the sociality of rumor to bear on the smoky season in northern Thailand. The smoky season occurs each year between February and April. Rumors of the causes of the smoky season circulate widely among lowland urban residents who often blame rural highland residents for their use of fire for forest scavenging, hunting and shifting cultivation. We argue that the uncertain causes and effects of the smoky season kindle the flames of rumor through which upland and lowland social relations are increasingly worked out. Additionally, the reframing of seasonal air pollution, which has existed in northern Thailand for at least two centuries, as a “haze crisis,” we contend, exists within the broader context of environmental geopolitical relations in which highlanders and their livelihoods are frequently characterized as a threat to national and environmental security.
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