Agricultural Commodities on the Philippine Frontier: State-Sponsored Resettlement and Ecological Distress in the 1930s
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In 1938, a delegation of Filipino government officials traveled to Mindanao, a majority “non-Christian” province in the southern Philippines, to determine whether the Koronadal Valley would be a good site for resettlement. They believed that agricultural commodity production on the archipelago’s periphery would provide a foundation for a sovereign Philippine economy and wanted to move Christian migrants from northern islands onto an enormous “agricultural colony.” To make their case, they cast the area as extremely lush, drawing on the idea that peripheral space in the tropics had limitless potential. New forms of intensive agricultural production did not pull migrants out of poverty, but it did radically transform the landscape, undercutting the power of indigenous locals and producing an agroecological terrain in persistent environmental crisis.
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