In this talk, Dr Sophie Chao will draw on her forthcoming book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua (Duke University Press, 2022) to explore how Indigenous Marind communities in the Indonesian-controlled province of West Papua understand and navigate the social, political, and environmental demands of the oil palm plant. Situating the recent proliferation of oil palm plantations in West Papua within the context of the region's volatile history of colonisation, ethnic domination, and capitalist incursion, Sophie Chao will trace how Marind attribute environmental destruction not just to humans, technologies, and capitalism, but also to the volition and actions of the oil palm plant itself. By approaching cash crops as both drivers of destruction and subjects of human exploitation, she will problematise violence as a more-than-human act, while centering how Marind fashion their own changing worlds and foreground Indigenous creativity and decolonial approaches to anthropology.

About the Presenter

Dr Sophie Chao is Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) Fellow and Lecturer in Anthropology at The University of Sydney. Her research investigates the intersections of Indigeneity, ecology, capitalism, health, and justice in the Pacific. Sophie Chao 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. For more information, please visit www.morethanhumanworlds.com.

About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


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