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Gatty Lecture: Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Plantation Zone

Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 8:00pm

Kahin Center
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Tania Li and Pujo Semedi

Tania Li: Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Pujo Semedi: Associate Professor of Anthropology, Gadjah Mada University

Plantation Life examines the structure and governance of Indonesia’s contemporary oil palm plantations, which supplies 50% of the world’s palm oil. Li and Semedi theorize “corporate occupation” to underscore how massive forms of capitalist production and control over the palm oil industry replicate colonial-style relations that undermine citizenship. In so doing, they question the assumption that corporations are necessary for rural development, contending that the dominance of plantations stems from a political system that privileges corporations. In this talk, the authors will present the main arguments of the book and describe the methods they devised for collaborative research and writing.

Tania Murray Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Her publications include Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone (with Pujo Semedi, Duke University Press 2021), 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.

Pujo Semedi is an associate professor at the Dept. of Anthropology, Gadjah Mada University. His research mostly addressed the issues of environmental and economical dynamics in rural, agricultural communities. He published articles on Indonesian fishing communities, upland agriculture communities, and tea and palm oil plantations in Java and Kalimantan. Currently he collects data on the social transformation from agricultural to industrial society in Southern Germany and Norway in the last century.

This Gatty lecture will take place in person at the Kahin Center, but people are also welcome to join us on Zoom. 

***Note that this talk takes place at 8pm, not the usual 12:30pm.

For questions, please contact

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Southeast Asia Program


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Ava White

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Tania Li and Pujo Semedi

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University of Toronto and Universitas Gadjah Mada

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