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Accepted Paper:

Rainforest restoration/ruination: the in-between of planetary repair  
Nadya Karimasari (Wageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on research of a rainforest restoration project of oil palm elimination in Aceh and Northern Sumatra, this research contributes to the literature in anthropology on the inter-imbrication of care, conservation, and ruination in the context of ecological crisis.

Paper long abstract:

Since mid-2000, the expansion of oil palm (elaeis guineensis) has been depicted as the major contributor of deforestation. In Gunung Leuser National Park, Aceh and Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, environmental agents have been dismantling oil palm grown within forest area as an act of caring for the rainforest, under the banner of forest restoration and conservation. Based on 1,5 years of ethnographic fieldwork, archival research and follow-up interviews, my research unsettles the binary between care and ruination. For some environmental agents, caring for the rainforest necessarily means destroying not only oil palm, but also the soil and the rainforest itself. From the vernacular knowledge of smallholders whose oil palm were being demolished, the act of bulldozing oil palm and leaving the ruined landscape abandoned - in the hope of achieving a natural forest regeneration-would instead ignite uncontrollable forest fire. The first vegetation to grow would be grassland (including imperata cylindrica) easily flammable when this grass, especially in an emptied landscape, got blown away by the wind that creates friction between itself and lead to fire that reach a wide range of forest area. Meanwhile, the weight of the bulldozer will harden the soil itself. Thus for the smallholder, caring for rainforest necessarily means cultivating it, sometimes with oil palm but always intercropped with other crops, which entails meticulous and intergenerational care for the soil and its complex organisms. This research contributes to the literature in anthropology on the inter-imbrication of care, conservation, and ruination in the context of ecological crisis.

Panel P080a
'Taking care together': Conservation as more-than-human commoning I
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -