Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia's Oil Palm Zone


Product Details

Duke University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.54 inches | 0.76 pounds

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About the Author

Tania Murray Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and author of Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier, also published by Duke University Press.

Pujo Semedi is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Universitas Gadjah Mada and author of Close to the Stone, Far from the Throne: The Story of a Javanese Fishing Community, 1820s-1990s.


"Palm oil is one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in consumer products in industrialized countries and the principal driver of landscape transformation in the Indo-Malay tropics. This, the first ethnography of oil palm plantations, convincingly demonstrates that they neither achieve their purported goal of modernizing the rural peasantry nor---remarkably---make money for the corporations involved, a paradox and perversity of modern capitalism. This is a must-read for everyone interested in tropical peoples and environments and the impact on them of consumerism in the global North."--Michael R. Dove, author of "Bitter Shade: The Ecological Challenge of Human Consciousness"
"Plantation Life is an eye-opening book on many fronts. It offers up an ethnographically and historically rich account of forms of life in Indonesia's corporate plantation zone and has much to give about method, collaboration, and evidence. Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi show how the plantation is a presence both fickle and contradictory, at once an occupying force and a source of neglect: occupation and abandonment, order and disorder, theft and calculability, alignment and fracture all coexist in a rough-and-tumble assemblage in which political economy and technologies of power are simultaneously in play. An important book."--Michael Watts, Class of '63 Professor, University of California, Berkeley
"A useful primer on oil palm plantations in Indonesia but even more useful for illustrating how ethnographic research can be carried out across borders and languages. Recommended. Undergraduates and two-year program students. Recommended. Undergraduates and two-year program students."--Z. McLaughlin "Choice" (9/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)
"Rather than the typical colonial pattern of the local Indonesian collecting the data but having little involvement in the analysis or writing, [Plantation Life] involved the constitution of a real partnership in all aspects of the work. . . . Plantation Life represents an important contribution to the literature . . . and has a lot of potential for class adoption."--Ian G. Baird "Antipode" (9/1/2022 12:00:00 AM)