Fieldwork Undone

Knowing Cambodia's Land Grab Through Affective Encounters



land grabs, feminist methods, affect, emotional geographies, encounter, Cambodia


Our field research on land conflict in Cambodia was thwarted on multiple fronts. In this paper, we reflect on how our field work was undone and show how this led us to advocate alternative methodologies for understanding violence in places where long-term ethnography may not be possible. Our assemblage of methods revealed land grabs as more than an object; we instead came to see it as a ‘networked object’ that is tied into, and made up of, wider webs of power unmoored from the moment of displacement, whose effects travel through bodies and across space. We shifted towards embracing the potency of affective encounters as moments that force us to look, interpret and think differently. We argue that attention to the feeling and embodiment of everyday encounters can lead to a different understanding of the violence of land conflict; a violence that works through bodies, across space, forecloses futures, and implicates the researcher within this system.

Author Biographies

Alice Beban, Massey University

Lecturer, Sociology Programme, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University New Zealand

Laura Schoenberger, York University

PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, York University, Canada


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How to Cite

Beban, A., & Schoenberger, L. (2019). Fieldwork Undone: Knowing Cambodia’s Land Grab Through Affective Encounters. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(1), 77–103. Retrieved from