Land Grabs and Land Grants: Social Forestry as New Governmentality in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

map of indonesia.

by Ziwei Zhang (MLA ’17/ MDes ULE ’20)

This thesis focuses on social forestry as a model of community development and democratic invention in Indonesia by interrogating its formation, formulation, and implementation. First, I reposition social forestry in the history of the democracy movement in Indonesia to explore in depth by whom, how, and why spaces for participation and decentralization are being opened and filled. Second, I argue that in the current political and legal space, social forestry, while notionally ’empowering’ local communities, has also enabled depoliticization of the previous radical, anti-capitalist, and anti-palm oil civil movements. Third, I aim to call attention to the land politics in the proximity of extractive and conservative land use, as well as in the planning institution that institutionalizes insurgent civil movements.