Everyday violence and oil palm development in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

Monday 28 August 2023, 12:30 pm
PhD student
G. Rahmadian MSc.
prof. dr. A.H.M. van Meijl
dr. E.B.P. de Jong

Studies investigating the consequences of oil palm development revealed that it had led to inequality, vertical and horizontal conflict, socio-cultural disruption, and environmental issues. However, little was known about how it affected local communities in terms of the emergence of violence within them.  
Conducted in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, this study shows that the practice of everyday violence in the development phases of oil palm are not only related to the loss of access over natural resources, but related to the disruption of people’s cosmic energy, ancestor and kin ties embedded in the land and trees, the balance between the human, spiritual and social world, and the disturbance of their social relations through the idea of malu, but more importantly the disruption of inner connections that felt by the heart. 
This study shows that to understand violence it is not enough just to focus on obvious and visible forms of violence. It is as much about the more subtle, less visible, immaterial parts. As such to comprehending expressions of violence and its role in natural resource exploitation the social and cultural dimensions need to be more central in studies on violence. 
Gaffari Rahmadian was born and raised in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia. He finished his undergraduate and master's degree in the Department of Anthropology at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. In 2013, he joined the New Indonesian Frontier (NIF) research project, a multidisciplinary and collaborative research project between Netherlands and Indonesia, as a PhD candidate with support from Beasiswa Unggulan from the Indonesia Directorate of Higher Education (DIKTI). His interest in palm oil studies began in 2010 when he joined the Wealth and Poverty research project between UGM and Toronto, which examined the kind of life produced by oil palm plantations. Since then, he has focused his studies on understanding the impact of oil palm plantations on the social relations and behavior of the affected communities. His study interests include everyday violence, conflict, oil palm, agrarian change, social organization, social relations and human and environmental relations.