Universiteit Leiden

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Extinction, Extraction, Emergence: Plantation Necrobiopolitics on the West Papuan Oil Palm Frontier

Tuesday 2 May 2023
Pieter de la Court Building
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden


This talk is free and open for all, but seats are limited. So please register via the button.


Recent years have seen a renewed resurgence of interdisciplinary interest in the topic of the plantation–an industrial formation and enduring logic that has been instrumental to the rise of colonial racial capitalism and the construction of modern nations and natures. Drawing on long-term fieldwork conducted on the West Papuan oil palm frontier, Dr Chao will examine how Indigenous Marind communities in rural Merauke experience, theorize, and critique the impacts of plantation regimes on their intimate and ancestral relations to the living environment. Central to these experiences and theories are an array of more-than-human actors whose meaning, mattering, and morality are shaped by their alternately indexical, antagonistic, or ambiguous relationship to Marind themselves. Set against the backdrop of West Papua’s regional history of settler-colonial incursion and the plantation’s global history of racializing violence, the paper will argue that Marind philosophies of more-than-human extinction, extraction, and emergence constitute a form of epistemic resistance to the simplifying, hierarchizing, and disciplining logic of plantation regimes and their necrobiopolitical undergirdings. 

About Dr. Sophie Chao

Dr. Chao is Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sydney and Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow. Her research investigates the intersections of Indigeneity, ecology, capitalism, health, and justice in the Pacific. She is author of In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua, which received the Duke University Press Inaugural Scholars of Color First Book Award in 2021, and co-editor of The Promise of Multispecies Justice with Karin Bolender and Eben KirkseyShe previously worked for the human rights organization Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia, supporting the rights of forest-dwelling Indigenous peoples to their customary lands, resources, and livelihoods. Chao is of Sino-French heritage and lives on the unceded lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation in Australia. For more information, please visit www.morethanhumanworlds.com. 


There will be drinks afterwards on the third floor, Institute Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (CADS) 


This activity is connected to the CADS Sustainability Cluster and the Liveable Planet Programme.

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