On ‘being collective’:

A patchwork conversation with Somsook Boonyabancha on poverty, collective land tenure and Thailand’s Baan Mankong programme

Brenda Perez-Castro in conversation with Somsook Boonyabancha

Published in Issue 1.2 // Conversations

Keywords: collective land, cooperatives, land tenure, poverty, informality, Thailand


Understanding rent struggles as encompassing a wide array of social relations and processes, RHJ Editors decided to include a conversation in this issue that explores collective ownership and alternative modes of land tenure. We view questions about alternative modes of housing production and ownership as key in rethinking the foundation of landlord and tenant relationships and traditional forms of housing tenure more broadly. In this conversation, Brenda Pérez-Castro, who works at the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) secretariat in Bangkok and the former director of the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) in Thailand, Somsook Boonyabancha, discuss how notions of collectivity emerge and operate as a protection from market enclosure. Based on Boonyabancha’s vast experience within the Baan Mankong programme and beyond, she reflects on the role of collectiveness in wider social processes, and discusses the challenges of different social actors, including the state, in strengthening collective action that support housing security.


Soomsook Boonyabancha is a Thai architect and planner who worked with Thailand’s National Housing Authority (NHA) from 1977 to 1989, with the Urban Community Development Office (UCDO) from 1992 to 2000 and with the Community Organization Development Institute (CODI) where she was director for two terms (eight years). She’s currently advisor to CODI and the Secretary-General of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR).

Brenda Pérez-Castro is a Colombian sociologist, urbanist and development practitioner who has worked for NGOs and cooperation agencies on housing and slum upgrading in Latin America and Asia. She’s currently supporting research initiatives at the ACHR Secretariat in Bangkok.

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