Special Seminar by Tania Murray Li: “Dynamic Farmers, Dead Plantations, and the Myth of the Lazy Native: Counter-Trajectories of Indonesian Development”

Date & Time: Tuesday 13 June 2023 15:30−17:00
Place: Mid-sized Conference Room, 3 Floor, Inamori Building

Speaker: Tania Murray Li
Personal site:

ONLINE at the following URL:

This talk draws on the experience of Indonesia to challenge the globally-circulating transition narrative according to which rural people move to cities as their economies stagnate, and dynamic corporations take over agricultural production. In Indonesia this narrative pivots on the “myth of the lazy native” that presents small-scale farmers as unproductive, hence corporations are needed to get the job done. Counter to this myth, Indonesia’s small-scale farmers producing for global markets have shown great dynamism; it is plantation corporations that generate dead zones of economic stagnation, ecological reduction, and rights abuse.

Tania Murray Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and Research Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. Her research focuses on land, labour, class, capitalism, development, resources and indigeneity with a particular focus on Indonesia. Her latest book Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation of Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone (Duke University Press, 2021) is co-authored with Pujo Semedi (Universitas Gadjah Mada)

Contact: Noboru Ishikawa (CSEAS) ishikawa[at]