Recognizing landscapes and forgetting livelihoods: Climate narratives, indigenous community land rights, and perspectives from the Indonesian village

Authors: Micah Fisher*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Political Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: Climate violence, weathered livelihoods, communal presumption, agrarian change, Southeast Asia, Indonesian Adat
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The World Resources Climate Data Explorer states that Indonesia emits an astounding half of all global greenhouse gas emissions in the land use change and forestry sector. These emissions calculations represent rapid land conversion taking place across Indonesia due to deforestation and plantation expansion. Such a development regime resulted environmental disaster in 2015, in which el Niño induced droughts created widespread fires that enveloped much of Southeast Asia; a transboundary haze resulting in severe impacts to human health, incurring major economic losses, and highlighting another massive release of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, Indonesia has become a focal point of transnational movements seeking solutions and successfully supporting policy initiatives. In the era of political decentralization in Indonesia, the Indonesian movement for indigenous community land rights has emerged to fill the policy void of community based solutions for climate mitigation. As of 2017, a network of advocacy groups have helped to formalize 2,304 indigenous groups, enlisting 17 million members, and mapping claims to 13 million hectares. Indonesian President Widodo also supports these initiatives, and in December 2017 began formalizing indigenous community land rights to select communities. However, re-territorialization efforts to recognize indigenous community land rights highlight a more complex dynamic as they become formalized. In this research, I examine the first case to receive formal indigenous community land rights from forestry ministry authority. By re-mapping landscapes through the perspective of local livelihoods, I highlight the village priorities that policy initiatives systematically overlook.

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