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

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Negotiating the Burning Future: Indigenous Responses, Infrastructures, and Fire Governance in Indonesia
Sofyan Ansori

Last modified: 2022-06-03


Responding to the massive forest and land fires in 2015, the Indonesian state established the Peat Restoration Agency that aimed at mitigating impacts of such environmental catastrophes. This agency has been constructing extensive fire infrastructure to mediate and regulate future interactions between people and nature. It has also been promoting bottom-up participation through which villagers are expected to maintain and operate these new facilities. Findings from ethnographic experience in the dry season of 2019 show that instead of preventing fires, these infrastructures have "facilitated" the occurrence of fire events. Such a paradox signals the disjuncture between Indigenous responses and the current state intervention. This paper calls attention to infrastructure and the ways it facilitates not only the exchange of environmental ideas but also manifests imagination and desire. By focusing on the way fire infrastructures are perceived, embraced, and/or contested, this paper seeks to explain how the Indigenous peoples orient themselves toward the environmental/economic intervention and to the future imagined by the state and its experts. Considering Indigenous positionalities is a crucial step towards understanding the multiple possibilities of fire governance and the other contemporary environmental projects that demand people's participation and local engagement.

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