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The relationship between the development industry and the problems it claims to address is problematic. Development studies have often found development practice systematically misrepresenting its context with the result that interventions are out of kilter with reality and fail. In a series of articles in the early 2000s Antony Bebbington suggested development geographers attend to the spatial distribution of development interventions by mapping and explaining immanent development, mapping and explaining intentional development and studying the relationships between them. This article uses the case of property rights interventions in Cambodia to examine the extent that Bebbington's approach might explain development interventions and their relationship to the contexts into which they are inserted. Primary data consist of interviews with key actors involved in decisions over the locations of these interventions. Secondary data consist of reports and databases showing their geographical spread, and political and social science literature explaining the main transitions in recent Cambodian history. The main empirical finding is that the interventions, land titling and community forestry, have not been implemented in the places where the problems they are claimed to address are located. The methodological reflection is that Bebbington's approach valuably challenges policy narratives that tend to smooth space and conceal unevenness. However, it provides only a broad theoretical framework rather than any theoretical content. The approach may only realize its potential when Bebbington and others begin to apply it to generate hypotheses and theory. A new hypothesis emerging from the Cambodian case is briefly introduced in this regard.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Human and Economic Geography, School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg Vasagatan 1 SE-405 30 Göteborg Sweden,

Publication date: 2011-09-01

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