Tania Murray Li

Land's end : capitalist relations on an indigenous frontier

Duke university press

Durham (North Carolina), 2014
bibliothèque insulaire
regards sur l'Insulinde

parutions 2014

Land's end : capitalist relations on an indigenous frontier / Tania Murray Li. - Durham : Duke university press, 2014. - XI-225 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
ISBN 978-0-8223-5705-6
DESCRIPTION :  Drawing on two decades of ethnographic research in Sulawesi, Indonesia, Tania Murray Li offers an intimate account of the emergence of capitalist relations among indigenous highlanders who privatized their common land to plant a boom crop, cacao. Spurred by the hope of ending their poverty and isolation, some prospered, while others lost their land and struggled to sustain their families. Yet the winners and losers in this transition were not strangers — they were kin and neighbors. Li's richly peopled account takes the reader into the highlanders' world, exploring the dilemmas they faced as sharp inequalities emerged among them.

The book challenges complacent, modernization narratives promoted by development agencies that assume inefficient farmers who lose out in the shift to high-value export crops can find jobs elsewhere. Decades of uneven and often jobless growth in Indonesia meant that for newly landless highlanders, land's end was a dead end. The book also has implications for social movement activists, who seldom attend to instances where enclosure is initiated by farmers rather than coerced by the state or agribusiness corporations. Li's attention to the historical, cultural, and ecological dimensions of this conjuncture demonstrates the power of the ethnographic method and its relevance to theory and practice today.
Tania Murray Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political-Economy and Culture of Asia. She is the author of The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics (…) ; coauthor of Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia ; and editor of Transforming the Indonesian Uplands: Marginality, Power and Production.
CONTENTS Acknowledgments

My title plays on several meanings of land's end: the changed use of land, the end of a customary system of land sharing, and the end of the primary forest that had served as highlanders' land frontier, the place in which they could expand when need or opportunity presented. It also flags their sense of bewilderment — coming to a dead end, the end of a peninsula surrounded by sea, without a raft or a sense of direction. (p. 2)

1. Positions
— examines the processes that formed identities and drew highlanders, merchants and government authorities into particular sets of relations over the two centuries before 1990. (Introduction, pp. 28-29)

2. Work and Care
— takes a fine-grained view of some highland neighborhoods to explore relations of work and care among highlanders in the period when they had plenty of land, and they grew their own food. (Introduction, p. 29)

3. Enclosure
— explores the process of enclosure that began around 1990 when highlanders began to plant cacao on their common land. It tracks the emergence of a concept of land as a bounded unit of space that could be privately owned, bought, and sold. (Introduction, p. 29)

4. Capitalist Relations
— explores how capitalist relations emerged in the highlands as land, labor, and capital started to move in circuits defined by competition and profit. (Introduction, p. 29)

5. Politics, Revisited
— examines highlanders' responses to increasingly entrenched inequality, and the politics that emerge from this conjuncture. (Introduction, p. 29)


Appendix: Dramatis Personae
Notes, Bibliography (pp. 205-219), Index
  • « Agir pour les autres : gouvernementalité, développement et pratique du politique » traduit de l'anglais par Fadhila Le Meur et Pierre-Yves Le Meur, Paris : Karthala, 2020

mise-à-jour : 8 février 2022
Tania Murray Li : Land's end, capitalist relations on an indigenous frontier