CASE – Tania Murray Li « Changing Relations of Land and Labour in Southeast Asia – 21 avril

CASE EHESS – salle 638 – 16h, salle 638 – 6e, étage, 190 avenue de France – 75013 Paris

Three hundred and thirty million people currently live in Southeast Asia’s rural areas – 30 million

more people in 2010 than in 1990. Yet the terms on which they can access agricultural land

have changed significantly, due to two main processes: the expansion of land uses that displace

smallholders such as conservation areas, large scale plantations, hydro-schemes, and periurban

sprawl; and the formalization of land access through titling and licensing schemes, often at the

expense of customary rights of access. According to conventional transition narratives, people

displaced from the land will move away to find paid work, in agriculture or other sectors. Hence

the land question morphs into the labour question. On this front, we find that the availability of

paid work is very uneven: people of particular age, gender, and ethnic groups may successfully

navigate migrant labour regimes, while others are stuck in place – unable to live on the land as

before, yet without an alternative. The talk offers a comparative exploration of changing relations

of land and labour across the region, and some case studies from particular sites.

Tania Murray Li is a guest researcher at the Fondation Maison des Sciences de L’Homme in

Paris, March-April 2016. She teaches in the Department 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, development,

resource struggles, community, class, and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia.

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