Living with landmines: mine action, development and wellbeing in post-conflict societies – a case study in Cambodia

  • Gabrielle Davies

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


It is widely recognized that landmines pose a significant threat to the development and recovery of post-conflict societies. What is less well understood is the impact that these weapons have on the everyday lives and wellbeing of affected people and the environments in which they live. This thesis therefore seeks to deepen this understanding by presenting the findings from community-level qualitative research undertaken in Cambodia, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. I argue that it is essential to consider the effect that landmines have on people, the environments in which they live, and the relationships between people and environment. In order to explore this, I build on the notion of ‘wellbeing ecology’ introduced by White & Jha (2014). Wellbeing ecology is a place-sensitive approach that considers the inter-connected and dynamic social, economic, emotional, physical and spiritual relationships that people have with each other and their environments over time. By their very presence, landmines represent a threat to both social and natural systems. They also reconstitute people’s experience of place. I explore this in particular through the notion of contaminated landscapes, which draws on and takes forward work on therapeutic landscapes in health geography.My data reveals that local people and mine action actors understand the effects of landmines differently. While mine action actors focus predominantly on material impact, local people conceptualise landmine impact in a more holistic way, referring to its social, emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical meanings. Data from the village highlights the importance of place for wellbeing, revealing that living in a contaminated landscape negatively affects people’s quality of life materially, relationally and subjectively. This demonstrates how a wellbeing ecology approach can usefully add to the understanding of the experience of living with landmines and the effect this has on quality of life.
Date of Award18 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorSarah White (Supervisor) & Jason Hart (Supervisor)


  • Landmines
  • Wellbeing ecology
  • Cambodia
  • Contaminated landscapes
  • Socioecological relations
  • Human and environmental wellbeing
  • Landmine impact

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