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Rich Forests, Poor PeopleResource Control and Resistance in Java$
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Nancy Lee Peluso

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520073777

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520073777.001.0001

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Teak and Temptation on the Extreme Periphery: Cultural Perspectives on Forest Crime

Teak and Temptation on the Extreme Periphery: Cultural Perspectives on Forest Crime

(p.201) Seven Teak and Temptation on the Extreme Periphery: Cultural Perspectives on Forest Crime
Rich Forests, Poor People

Nancy Lee Peluso

University of California Press

This chapter describes village resistance in the form of “counter-appropriation” of teak by the villagers who plant it, harvest it, or live in the midst of it. Counter-appropriation is a more fitting term than “theft” because villagers feel no remorse in taking this wood from the state forest. The combination of the villagers' need for additional income and the high price of teak have attracted professional blackmarket wood merchants and other unauthorized teak brokers. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this case study of forest reappropriation. First, in many teak forest villages, the counter-appropriation of teak is a way of life, embedded within local culture, economic imperative, and everyday politics. Second, despite the motives of people to resist external control, village appropriators are used by outsiders on both sides of the law who accumulate capital at the villagers' risk. The interactions between villagers, foresters, and outsiders are so intertwined that bigger issues of long-term forest sustainability get lost in the labyrinth of public and private transactions.

Keywords:   villagers, teak forests, theft, counter-appropriation, blackmarket wood merchants

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