Land grabs, labour regimes, and expanding plantations. The 2008 financial crisis and subsequent global “land rush” drew attention to an important social fact: plantations are again expanding to meet global demand for commodities such as palm oil, rubber, and sugar. I have conducted multi-scalar analysis of how large scale land-deals are conducted, how they are legitimated, and how they may unravel. I have also examined these processes ethnographically in Indonesia’s plantation zones, and examined land dynamics together with labour at both the regional and household scale. Partly in response to the land-grab literature, which highlighted what is being taken away when land is assigned to plantation corporations (customary land, diverse ecologies, farmer autonomy and territorial control) – I have been writing about the sets of economic, social and political relations that plantations install.
Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia by By Derek Hall, Philip Hirsch and Tania Murray Li
Land debates are often presented as a conflict between market-oriented land use with full private property rights on one side, and equitable access, production for subsistence, and respect for custom on the other. The authors step back from these debates to point out that any productive use of land requires the exclusion of some potential users, and that most projects for transforming land relations are thus accompanied by painful dilemmas. Rather than counterposing “exclusion” to “inclusion”, the book argues that attention must be paid to who is excluded, how, why, and with what consequences.
Powers of Exclusion draws on insights from multiple disciplines to map out the new contours of struggles for land in Southeast Asia. The volume provides a framework for analyzing the dilemmas of land relations across the Global South and beyond.
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