Plantationocene in Southeast Asia
The Plantationocene refers to a spatio-temporal epoch rooted in the devastating transformation of diverse kinds of human-tended farms, pastures, and forests into extractive and enclosed plantations, relying on slave labor and other forms of exploited, alienated, and usually spatially transported labor (Haraway 2015, footnote 5: 162). Unlike the Anthropocene or Capitalocene, which position the human at the heart of proclaim the language of the human species through universalist geological and or economic narratives, the Plantationocene invitesoffers a more historically situated origin story for theour current epochmodern world. By placing plantations at the core of the techno-capitalist industrial complex, the Plantationocene enables athe holistic analysis of long-standing patterns of dislocation, relocation and transplantation of both human and the non-human beings around the world, along with related regimes of racialized violence and forced labour, aands well as extractivist logics that decisively and irreversibly transformaltered biodiverse ecologies into monocrop formations.
Plantation lifeworlds, both past and present, are critical for understanding the social, political, economic, and multispecies dynamics of the Southeast Asia. In this region, Ccolonial plantations introduced, and solidified, capitalist economies, while their reliance on labour migration irreversibly weavinged Eurocentric social and racial hierarchies within the local social fabrics. Importantly, plantationscapes reworked the very materiality of the region, as the introduction of new species, rampant extraction and infrastructural development fundamentally altered geographies and ecosystems, at once severely disrupting more-than-human kinship networks and allowing the emergence of renewed entanglements and relations of belonging on ‘rhizome land’ (Glissant 1977). Along with contemporary plantations in Southeast Asia, such as oil palm, coconut, eucalyptus, and timber or XXX, that oftentimes follow these same logics, (colonial) plantation futures are also here (Mckittrick 2013). Patterns of internal migration, socio-economic inequalities and environmental disasters, though seemingly unrelated to colonial plantations, represent vivid testimonies of their enduring legacies.
This panel invites papers that explore the historical, contemporary, and speculative form and effects of the Plantationocene in Southeast Asia. We seek contributions that expand our understanding of monocrop ecologies by attending to their human and more-than-human dimensions, their relationship to race, gender, and labor, their imbrication with the transnational and global traffic of life and capital, and their position with colonial and post-colonial imaginaries of development, progress, and the commodification of nature. We are also interested in papers that examine plantations as sites of creativity, resistance, and subaltern activism - of Indigenous survivance and resilience, and of political and epistemic struggles over the meaning of “nature” and the position of humans and other-than-human within it. Of interest to the panel too are papers that offer empirically grounded critiques of the concept and affordances of the Plantationocene itself as a lens through which to understand Southeast Asian societies, economies, and environments, including in relation to other heuristic devices such as the Anthropocene, the Capitalocene, the Chtulucene, and the Planthroposcene.