Researching Southeast Asia commodity business: In contact with Shakila Yacob and Benoit Henriet, hoping to meet Lesley Potter and Noboru Ishikawa on peat and smallholder economy

As part of my research work for my book (in drafting) on "the business of the palm oil boom" I have been delving into various literature to understand more about the context and background of the commodity business in the region. Also, interest in palm oil history extends to other regions!

It is wonderful to get in touch with other researchers in this process. I'll start to list some of them here, as I get in contact them! Thanks to friends for referrals too!

For some of my own publications and presentations, you can check here:

6 January 2016: In contact with Shakila Yacob and Benoit Henriet, hoping to meet Lesley Potter and Noboru Ishikawa on peat and smallholder economy

Noboru Ishikawa,, where he writes: "...My project is a multi-sited, multi-disciplinary empirical study, a strategic combination of field sciences. To understand the transformation of biomass society in the tropics, the research seeks to examine the articulation points between social systems and natural systems....The development of Bornean plantation field is morally endorsed and financially backed up by the international community in search of a sustainable development path for human society. Planted forests of oil palm and acacia mangium as a potential energy source are regarded as good for carbon emissions, and people on Wall Street produce products for the securitization of tropical biomass under the newly proposed REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiative. The threshold between nature and non-nature is now being arbitrarily manipulated by capitalists, the states, and international organizations. Articulating the field study of local peoples, cultures, and landscapes, namely anthropology, geography, history, political economy, environmental economics, plant and animal ecology, hydrology, soil science, area informatics, and forest ecology, a research team is organized for examining the multi-dimensional driving forces of change in human/non-human interactions in a heterogeneous landscape consisting of oil/acacia plantations, primary and secondary forests, and swidden fields...."

Lesley Potter,, where she writes: "My research has been on two fronts: a) historical analysis of forests, grasslands and land-use change in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, examining colonial and postcolonial impacts of government policies on small farmers; and b) current ethnographic studies at village level in Indonesia, particularly in parts of Kalimantan and Sumatra. The recent focus has been on smallholder producers of tree-based commodities such as oil palm, rubber and coffee, with oil palm presently receiving the most attention. A desk study of alternative pathways for oil palm smallholders in Latin America and Central Africa was undertaken for CIFOR, which was followed by fieldwork on the ground in Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador. This work is currently being written up, together with some detailed updating of the Indonesian scene, especially impacts of the new transmigration program."

Shakila Yacob,, with papers including:
  • Bridges to new business; The economic decolonization of Indonesia
  • The 'Unfinished Business' of Malaysia's Decolonisation: The Origins of the Guthrie 'Dawn Raid'
  • The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire
  • Ford's Investment in Colonial Malaya, 1926-1957

Benoit Henriet,, with papers / presentations including:
  • “Elusive natives”: escaping colonial control in the Leverville oil palm concession, Belgian Congo, 1923–1941, in Canadian Journal of African Studies/ La Revue canadienne des études africaines, 2015
  • 'Deglobalizing' the Postcolony? The changing faces of palm oil labour around Kikwit (DRC), 1911-2015, at Conference Empire, Labour, Citizenship. Current Research on Globalization. Brussels, 18-20 November 2015.
  • “Biopower in the Rainforest. Managing worker’s bodies in the Leverville oil palm concession (Belgian Congo, 1910-1940)” at 4th congress of the European Network in Universal and Global History (ENIUGH), Paris, 6 September 2014.
  • « Bleeding the Rainforest. Lever’s Palm Oil Concessions in Belgian Congo, 1910-1940 », at « Legal History PhD Day », Centre d’Histoire Judiciaire de l’Université Lille-2, Lille, 11 March 2014