Laurie Parsons

Laurie Parsons
Royal Holloway, University of London | RHUL · Department of Geography

PhD, Human Geography

About

53
Publications
8,546
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416
Citations
Citations since 2016
49 Research Items
404 Citations
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080100120
Introduction
Laurie Parsons is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London and Principal Investigator of the Project The Disaster Trade: The Hidden Footprint of UK Imports and Investment Overseas. Previously Co-Investigator of project Blood Bricks: Untold Stories of Modern Slavery and Climate Change from Cambodia, which examined brick kiln work in Cambodia, Laurie's work examines the contested politics of climate change on work, migration and inequality.

Publications

Publications (53)
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report is part of a larger research project funded by UK Research and Innovation's Global Challenges Research Fund entitled 'Depleted by Debt? Focusing a gendered lens on climate resilience, credit and nutrition in Cambodia and South India'. This Cambodia-focused report shows how microfinance loans are leading to an over-indebtedness emergency...
Article
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In shaping environmental policy, knowledge is power. Yet the opposite is also true. Control over the absence of knowledge facilitates certain policy outcomes being deflected, obscured, or magnified in a way that furthers political, personal, or institutional ends. Applying previous work on ignorance studies and agnotology to the development of Camb...
Article
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The rural sphere has suffered from underrepresentation in recent years in part due to growing interest in the urban. A perhaps equally important aspect of the decline has been the troubling of the spatial boundaries that define the rural and urban among scholars of mobilities and translocality. Exploring the decline of the rural in relation to thes...
Article
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This paper examines how global trade shapes and intensifies disasters. Juxtaposing three basic, everyday consumer goods – a t- shirt, a brick, and a tea bag – with disasters manifesting in their respective global supply chains, it high-lights how climate change, local environmental degradation, and carbon emissions are dynamically shaped by consump...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Climate change is no longer a future problem. It is a force reshaping the terms of the global workplace, reordering social relationships reducing productivity and worsening worker health. Yet in the drive towards industrial decarbonisation, the everyday struggles of workers in global supply chains battling worsening economic and physical condition...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Disasters like floods, droughts and landslides are a growing risk for millions of people in the global South. Yet in our globalising world, they are increasingly connected to processes originating in the global North. Focusing on imports from Cambodia, Sri Lanka and the South Asian ‘brick belt’, this project examines how British trade shapes the di...
Article
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In this paper, we question the promotion of financial inclusion, and microfinance specifically, as a means to achieve ‘Decent Work’ (DW) under the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) programme. Drawing upon original research findings from two types of internal migrants in Cambodia, we make a twin contention: first, that excessive levels of mic...
Chapter
‘Because my parents were sick, I sold our land and our house to treat them. After they died, I came to work at the brick kiln. If the boss shuts down the brick kiln, I don't know where I’d go.’ Roumjoung, female debt-bonded brick kiln worker Almost three decades after Cambodia first embraced neoliberalism, the plight of its working poor offers a st...
Chapter
This chapter explores the experiences of debt-bonded brick workers in Cambodia, whose unfree labour contributes to the country's construction sector boom. Drawing on recent scholarship on the rise of debt as a coercive form of labour control within late-capitalist exploitation, the chapter asks how unfree labour relations constrain brick workers' a...
Article
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Climate change has profound implications for the geography of work. As the papers in this special section aim to show, changes to the climate – both long and short term – are not experienced directly but through the lens of working life. Those experiencing climate change are not atomistic entities, but connected agents, deeply embedded within globa...
Article
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Perceptions of climate change and associated risks are complex and require greater consideration of the context in which behaviours are formed and changed. People tend to create their own stories of climate change providing an opportunity to capture personal experiences and frame solutions accordingly through narratives. Engagement with the issue c...
Chapter
As climate change becomes more prominent in political discourse, the nature and extent of human mobility in response to it is a question of growing relevance. Yet it is one that poses significant methodological and conceptual challenges. How people move in response to the environment depends upon where it is experienced and what those who experienc...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit at a time when microfinance is at its historical peak, with an estimated 139 million microfinance customers globally. Cambodia’s microfinance sector is one of the fastest growing, and like others in the Global South has moved from offering entrepreneurial capital to everyday liquidity, and even disaster relief. In this...
Article
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Over the past two decades, the global issue of modern slavery has become increasingly prominent within development thinking and practice. Efforts to address it largely focus on criminal prosecutions of immediate 'perpetra-tors', for instance those who are direct employers or middlemen. This article adds to a growing call from critical scholars to l...
Article
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This article examines the factors shaping the perception of climate change and the relationship between climate change perception and migration. Drawing on a 691-case survey of climate perceptions in Cambodia, it explores three dimensions of climate change perception. The first is the relationship of climate change perceptions to space, geography,...
Book
This book sets out to answer a question of global importance: how does inequality persist in our increasingly mobile world? It is a contentious problem. From Barack Obama to Pope Francis, inequality is often referred to as the greatest threat to our democracy, society and economy. Yet in an era some call the ‘age of migration’, opportunity has appa...
Chapter
Chapter 7 explores how translocal livelihoods have contributed to a rise in nationalistic discourse, national communitarian ideology and the ethnically mediated ‘othering’ of certain groups. The chapter begins by exploring the linkages between the domestic garment industry, the union movement and political opposition to the incumbent Cambodia Peopl...
Chapter
Focusing on the re-emergence of an ancient folk tale about begging migration, Chapter 6 address the relationship between myths, moral narratives, and translocal livelihoods in Cambodia. Specifically, it interrogates a popular myth, known throughout Cambodia, about the cursed village of Prey Veng province where all inhabitants, rich or poor, must mi...
Chapter
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Chapter 5 explores the translocal nature of agriculture and land use. Introducing a translocal ecology lens, it examines the hitherto largely unexplored linkages between land grabs, natural resource depletion, labour migration and translocal mobility, demonstrating how the socio-economic processes associated with translocal livelihoods engender cha...
Chapter
Chapter 4 explores how gender and demographic roles within the translocal household shape and are shaped by the changing balance of agriculture and industry. By outlining changes in smallholder farming practices over the last two decades—such as the widespread transition from labour intensive transplanting to capital intensive broadcasting—it demon...
Chapter
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Having previously highlighted the shortcomings of traditional inequality measures in Chapter 2, this chapter highlights the efficacy of an alternative perspective. Bringing together evidence from linked rural and urban research sites to explore the role of remittances in replicating rural inequalities in urban areas, it uses a mixed methodology, in...
Chapter
Chapter 2 undertakes an holistic analysis of Cambodia’s recent growth and contemporary endowments, in order to highlight the shortcomings of traditional economic indicators of inequality in the context of translocal livelihoods. It argues that traditional measures such as the Gini coefficient and the Palma and Thiel indices share a static conceptio...
Chapter
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Chapter 8 draws together the insights of the chapters that precede it to argue that in an age increasingly characterized by translocal livelihoods, conventional measures have failed to capture the extent of inequality. This is due to the prevalence of static, atomistic, and economically foreclosed conceptions of wealth, which under-represent both t...
Chapter
Chapter 1 introduces the concept of translocal inequality by highlighting the multi-faceted nature of inequality and its manifestation across multiple places, times and forms. Examples are offered to demonstrate how factors as diverse as a parent’s health, a child’s education and the specifics of agricultural livelihoods continue to influence indiv...
Article
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This paper advances existing research on both the geographies of fashion and the geographies of waste, utilising their shared interests in commodity biography. Empirically, it documents the use of textile waste from export-oriented garment factories in the peri-urban areas of Phnom Penh, Cambodia as fuel for nearby brick-kilns supplying the city’s...
Article
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This paper draws on evidence from debt bonded brick workers in Cambodia to explore how animism and formal religion are articulated to retain workers in dangerous and difficult conditions. The paper shows first how factory labourers, owners, and local religious figures actively articulate spiritual beliefs by legitimising workers’ confinement to the...
Article
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Approaches to communicating climate science beyond academia are necessary for enhancing salience, understanding, and engagement and accelerating action. This Primer discusses the heterogeneous manner in which climate change messaging is received by different audiences, how social scientific approaches could help to better tailor climate change mess...
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In this commentary paper, the current state of research on the tightly connected and bi-directional relationships among modern slavery, environmental degradation and climate change is critically assessed and reviewed. An emerging branch of research has begun to conceptualize linkages between slavery and environmental change. Responding to a gap in...
Article
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As successive reports have predicted tens or even hundreds of millions of people displaced by climate change in the coming decades, the politics of climate migration has moved to the forefront of contemporary public discourse. In particular, those least able to adapt and most vulnerable to exploitation have garnered media and policy attention. Neve...
Article
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Despite the increasing preponderance of non‐farm work in Cambodia, labour migrants across a range of working conditions remain linked to their rural homesteads through durable financial and social arrangements. This article explores this phenomenon through the case of debt‐bonded brick kiln workers in Phnom Penh, formerly smallholder farmers in vil...
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An emerging body of work has critiqued the concept of climate adaptation, highlighting the structural constraints impeding marginalised communities across the Global South from being able to adapt. This article builds on such work through analysis of debt-bonded brick workers in Cambodia, formerly small farmers. It argues that the detrimental impac...
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This short article briefly explains the wider negative impacts and deleterious trends that the ubiquitousness of microcredit has created for the poor in Cambodia.
Article
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This paper explores how small group sharing practices contribute to wider community hierarchies. Using a combination of qualitative, quantitative and network data, the paper shows how small group reciprocal practices overlap to generate key nodes within community scale networks, creating hierarchies and information inequalities in each site. Thus,...
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The literature on climate migration is increasingly concerned with linking the natural-environmental and socio-cultural dimensions of risk response. However, the epistemological disjuncture between 'objective' and subjective accounts of the environment is an impediment. In particular, despite clear evidence of mutual relevance, work on the emotiona...
Article
This paper uses the context of Cambodia's 2013/14 and 2015 minimum wage campaigns to demonstrate the translocally rural-urban nature of worker agency and activism within global production networks. In doing so, it first highlights the gendered and hierarchical nature of the Cambodian union movement, emphasising in particular the disjuncture between...
Article
Focusing on three neighbouring villages in Cambodia, this paper argues the need for a multi-scalar interpretation of the relationship between mobility and wealth. It analyses migrant livelihoods in both sender and receiving areas to show that single scale measurements of mobility are inappropriate in the context of translocal livelihoods because li...
Article
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This paper uses the exodus of Cambodian migrant workers from Thailand in June 2014 as a focal point around which to explore Cambodian migrant attitudes towards the systems of documentation and brokerage that influence their movement. From the perspective of Cambodian returnees and their families, it builds on recent work exploring narratives of bro...
Article
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This paper explores the participation of elder members of Cambodian households in translocal livelihoods. Based on linked, rural–urban fieldwork rooted in a Phnom Penh garment worker enclave, it highlights three aspects of elder translocality in Cambodia. First, it shows that the logistics of older people’s migrations are not predicated directly on...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Sexual harassment in the workplace and the community is a form of violence against women and a human rights violation. It remains a serious and widespread problem for workers in the Cambodian garment industry. This research finds that it also represents significant financial costs to employers-totalling almost USD 89 million per annum. i Since the...
Article
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This article uses evidence from Cambodia to explore the role of remittances in replicating rural inequalities in urban areas. In doing so, it uses a mixed methodology, incorporating social network analysis, household surveys and qualitative interviews, to highlight the role of familial remittance commitments in determining urban migrant livelihoods...
Article
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This paper uses the concept of viscosity to highlight how structural impediments to movement affect not only populations and individuals characterised by low (or no) mobility but also highly mobile groups. Using the ‘cyclo’ riding paratransit workers of Phnom Penh as a lens, it is suggested here that groups of this sort are trapped in high-mobility...
Article
By investigating the social development of a migrant enclave in the context of rapid economic development and circular migration, this paper builds upon recent work emphasising the co-production of place by migrants and their hosts. In doing so, it introduces a longitudinal element to the analysis, highlighting that place in migrant enclaves is sha...
Article
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This article contends that many critics of social capital have failed to note a gradual but significant evolution taking place at the fringes of the theory. Influenced by work conducted by both critics and proponents, but unburdened by the theoretical flaws associated with “capital” status, various authors working in network theory and related disc...
Article
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This paper concerns the nature of structured begging migration in Phnom Penh, as well as its impact and meaning in sender communities. It interrogates a popular myth known throughout Cambodia concerning the supernatural motivation of ‘rich’ beggars, arguing that its prevalence reflects the growing incidence of structured, circular migration based a...
Chapter
Cambodia today is a country in the throes of a persistent and perhaps degenerative environmental crisis. Successive years of floods and droughts, alternating or in tandem, between 2000 and 2003 set the tone for the new millennium and more than a decade later this theme shows little sign of abating. Every year the nation’s crops are beset, to a grea...
Article
Full-text available
This article presents evidence for an adjusted and refocused systems theory of labour migration in Cambodia. Specifically, it seeks to highlight first, how migration in Cambodia may be understood as a multi-scalar phenomenon characterised by pragmatism and flexibility; secondly, it emphasises the undergirding role of traditional rural norms in shap...

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Projects (3)
Project
Facing growing crises of agricultural productivity and taking primary responsibility for the nutritional wellbeing of their households, women are targeted as credit borrowers globally. Credit provisioning therefore speaks to the push for 'resilience' against climate disasters. But how do we ensure that small-scale credit as a tool for 'climate resilience' does not come at the cost of women's emotional and bodily depletion through processes of household nutrition provisioning? This is the key concern motivating this two-year multidisciplinary project which is set within the political economy contexts of Cambodia and Tamil Nadu, India.
Project
The “Blood Bricks” project aims to link climate change and modern slavery by both tracing migrant slaves’ journeys backwards to their communities of origin and forwards to the global production networks in which the materials they produce are embedded. As such, it investigates not only modern slavery itself, but also its causes and consequences, aiming in doing so to demonstrate its intertwinement in world systems, both economic and natural.