Over recent years, concerns about Indonesia’s food security have seen a sharp increase in industrial-scale agriculture across the country, including into the forests of West Papua. At the same time, the environmental and social ramifications of monocropping, particularly palm oil, are becoming well-known.
Are the customary rights of indigenous peoples being respected in negotiations over land for agribusiness? What exactly is “sustainable palm oil”? And what are the impacts of palm oil plantation expansion on the forests and peoples whose culture and livelihoods are inextricably linked to them?
In Talking Indonesia this week, Dr Jemma Purdey speaks to anthropologist Dr Sophie Chao, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sydney’s School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and an honorary postdoctoral fellow at Macquarie University, about her research with the indigenous Marind peoples of Merauke district in West Papua. Dr Chao previously worked for the Forest Peoples Programme and has undertaken consultancies for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations.
In 2019, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Jemma Purdey from Deakin University and the Australia-Indonesia Centre, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from Singapore Management University and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.
Photo by David Gilbert/RAN.
See below for links to Sophie’s recent work discussed in this podcast:
- ‘In the Shadow of the Palm: Dispersed Ontologies Among Marind, West Papua’, Cultural Anthropology (2018)
- ‘The Truth About “Sustainable Palm Oil”’, Sapiens (13 June 2019)
- How land grabbers co-opt indigenous ritual traditions in Papua: Q&A with Anthropologist Sophie Chao, The Gecko Project and Mongabay (28 March 2019)
- Sophie’s website is morethanhumanworlds