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Environmental Forum | Governing Land and People in the Global South | Tania Li, University of Toronto

January 31, 2019 - 3:30pm
Y2E2 Building, Room 299

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Join us for an Environmental Forum with Tania Li on Thursday, January 31 from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Stanford University.  

Since colonial times, experts have intervened in relations between land and people to achieve various ends, notably to regulate land and forest uses, to extract resources for revenue and profit, and to improve the livelihoods of indigenous populations. Competing priorities often mean that schemes for intervention run at cross-purposes, and native welfare is often sacrificed as a result. Alongside their familiar role as advocates for the dispossessed, anthropologists are well positioned to analyze modes of government (their diagnoses and prescriptions, their constitutive exclusions), and the effects that particular interventions have when they hit the ground.  Taking the example of Indonesia’s contemporary land reform, I will explore the limits of expert schemes, and demonstrate the value of the grounded insights anthropologists can supply. 

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. Her publications include Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier(Duke University Press, 2014), Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia(with Derek Hall and Philip Hirsch, NUS Press, 2011), The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics(Duke University Press, 2007) and many articles on land, labour, class, capitalism, development, resources and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia. Her current book project Plantation Lifeis an ethnography of an oil palm zone.

The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Department of Anthropology will host two Environmental Forums in the winter quarter.  This Forum will focus on how the field of environmental anthropology is currently evolving and which subthemes, approaches and models have proved the more successful in fostering meaningful research collaboration between natural science traditions, applied research and social science approaches in the study of the relationship between society and the environment. 

Speakers will discuss their ongoing research and share thoughts on successful models of collaboration between social scientists and those working in the natural sciences in understanding the complexities of the environment.

For questions, please contact Mollie Field at

Event Sponsor: 
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Department of Anthropology
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 
(650) 721-4655

This event belongs to the following series