Special Seminar by Tania Murray Li: “Putting Plantation Life into Public Debate: Experiments in Research Translation”

Date & Time: Thursday 6 July 2023 15:30-17:00
Place: Large Conference Room, 3 Floor, Inamori Building (

Speaker: Tania Murray Li
Personal site:

Oil palm plantation corporations occupy around a third of Indonesia’s farmland, yet their role in transforming the countryside is virtually absent in public debate.  City dwellers in Indonesia encounter oil palm mainly in the form of irritating smog from plantation land clearing. In the EU, environmental campaigns focus on forest loss and disappearing orang hutan. A decade of field-based research in an oil-palm saturated zone of Kalimantan has provided me with a deeper understanding of how plantations work on the ground, but it remains a challenge to translate these findings into formats capable of disrupting received narratives and expanding the terrain of debate. In this talk I will present my experiments in translating research using written and graphic formats such as short articles, blogs, podcasts, videos and cartoons. 

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).