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Capitalist Relations on Indonesia’s Indigenous Frontiers

In globally circulating discourses, autochthonous or Indigenous People are often characterized by their dedication to preserving lifeways that are community oriented and non-capitalist. Yet this image has a double edge: protective, from one perspective, it also enables large scale corporate investors to insist that they alone are capable of developing the national economy. Drawing on ethnographic research in Sulawesi and Kalimantan, the lecture challenges this problematic polarity by exploring the enthusiastic, three-century engagement of Indonesia’s indigenous farmers with global markets and traces the consequences of consigning them to a subsistence or non-market niche.

Tania Murray Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her publications include Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier (Duke University Press, 2014), Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia (with Derek Hall and Philip Hirsch, NUS Press, 2011), The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics (Duke University Press, 2007) and many articles on land, labour, class, capitalism, development, resources and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia. Her latest book Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation of Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone (Duke University Press, 2021) is co-authored with Pujo Semedi (Universitas Gadjah Mada).  


This event is part of the lecture series:
ZMO Colloquium Winter Semester 2021/22
Political Economies of Original Inhabitation