Circuits of Power : Environmental Injustice from Bangkok’s Shopping Malls to Laos’ Hydropower Dams

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Early online date2 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2019


In what ways are lifestyles in urbanising Thailand, increasingly oriented towards shopping mall's related to the threat to the wildlife and struggles for subsistence in distant Lao hinterlands? Our article answers this question by looking at the workings of electricity as the key infrastructure that connects these seemingly unrelated events and practices. We argue that the circulation of electricity flows along uneven channels, shifting injury and environmental harm across international borders. This circuit is perpetuating inequality and environmental injustice in the Lower Mekong. To demonstrate this claim, we analyse the electricity sector at numerous scales and locations – the urban scale in Bangkok, the country scale of Thailand and then Laos and the local community scale in Laos. We then discuss by what means various material and social processes and actors at these different scales form this circuit. Looking at circuits of power allows us to link the story of electricity consumption with that of production, with an emphasis on their extraterritoriality, multiplicity and boundaries. Our findings illustrate the effects of this circuit on spaces far from a thought‐of urban area. Furthermore, we demonstrate the ways in which these effects have produced inequality and injustice across borders.