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A counter-trajectory of development: politics and agroecology on a Sumatran volcano

David Gilbert
Date and Time: 
Monday, February 27, 2017 - 12:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


For more than a century, industrialization has remade Sumatra into site of logging concessions, plantation estates and mines. But on the Aren Volcano, one-time plantation laborers have worked together to reclaim land from a plantation estate. Along the way, they have cultivated diverse, thriving, and ecologically-attune agricultural forests.

In this talk, I argue that Aren’s agriculturalists have constructed a counter-trajectory of development, as they have acknowledged rural industrialization’s many problems and also worked to move beyond them, in an especially modern elaboration of livelihood, politics and ecology. Drawing on my time on the Aren Volcano last year, I consider how this counter-trajectory of development challenges ideas of agrarian change as linear process, where pre-capitalist economies become industrial ones. On Aren, industrialization was not an endpoint of development, but instead a way-point towards an emergent, post-industrial life.  


David Gilbert is a Dissertation Writer in the Anthro department.