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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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The Emergence of “Scientific” Forestry in Colonial Java

The Emergence of “Scientific” Forestry in Colonial Java

(p.44) Three The Emergence of “Scientific” Forestry in Colonial Java
Rich Forests, Poor People

Nancy Lee Peluso

University of California Press

The nineteenth century was a turning point in forest management and the forms of state control over the teak and nonteak forests of Java. It was then that a bureaucratic, colonial Forest Service drew boundaries between forest and agricultural land—on maps and in the field—and established police forces to restrict people's access to trees and other forest products. Through a process of trial and error, regulations for profitable tree plantation management were encoded in colonial law, as were the philosophies of forest conservation for hydrological purposes. This period was also the beginning of the foresters' great concern with their eminent rights of domain over land, timber, and the demarcation of forest boundaries. Their possessiveness is seen today in the persistent use of the terms of exclusion that criminalize customary rights of access to forest products and land: “forest theft,” “encroachment,” “squatting,” and “illegal grazing.” Forest dwellers continued to engage in these activities, despite the pejorative labels, in their practice of everyday life.

Keywords:   forest management, forest access, state control, tree plantation management, colonial law, forest dwellers, domain rights

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