Universitas Indonesia Conferences, The 8th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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Neoliberalism and the ambiguity of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
Iwan Pirous, Syarifudin Syarifudin

Last modified: 2022-06-13


This paper aim to discuss ambiguity of values, questioning ethical, power relations, moral issues which sit uncomfortably for anthropologists who take position as environmental consultant in neoliberalism economy era. A situation that requires her/him to twist the meaning of “putting the people first”, while at the same time continuously self-questioning: who has the right to translate their money into what sorts of meaning? (Graeber, 2012). Data was gathered during fieldwork as environmental consultant paid by palm oil big companies circa 2018-2019 in Central Kalimantan. The neoliberal economic system has created market driven world where states and companies are both promoting commercialization of nature and the consultants play their part as multidisciplinary scientists. An Environmental Consultant provides assessment and advisory services for their clients on matters regarding the management of environmental issues. They are generally hired by consultancy firms, which are hired by the public sector or commercial organizations. Every environmentalist worked in consultancy firms are seemingly pushed to provide successful stories by promoting simplistic narratives to efficiently generates funds using productive terms such as ecotourism, bioprospecting, payments for environmental services. offers a spectrum of positive values as promises including aiding cash poor communities to protect their biodiversity, promise increased participation, inclusion, development, empowerment of rural populations, eradication of poverty, encouraging environmentally friendly industries, and educating people to love and steward nature. However, recent studies suggest that Neoliberal driven governance and conservation initiatives often have negative social or ecological outcomes. Büscher and Dressler (2007) use the term 'layer of discursive blur' to describe how a series of rhetorical concepts such as participation, sustainable development, and win-win solutions are repeatedly used throughout conservation agency networks to conceal complex reality of unequal power relations between companies, communities and ignorant state. It is doubtful that Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) really acts as instrument to gain people’s consent.

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