Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone

About Plantation Life

Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone (Duke University Press, 2021) is co-authored by Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi. It is the product of more than a decade of collaboration between the two authors and students from their two universities, Gadjah Mada and Toronto. This website provides supplementary content, links, visuals, reviews and other material related to the book and to the larger research project. Enjoy!


In Plantation Life Tania Murray Li and Pujo Semedi examine the structure and governance of Indonesia's contemporary oil palm plantations in Indonesia, which supply 50 percent of the world's palm oil. They attend to the exploitative nature of plantation life, wherein villagers' well-being is sacrificed in the name of economic development. While plantations are often plagued by ruined ecologies, injury among workers, and a devastating loss of livelihoods for former landholders, small-scale independent farmers produce palm oil more efficiently and with far less damage to life and land. Li and Semedi theorize “corporate occupation” to underscore how massive forms of capitalist production and control over the palm oil industry replicate colonial-style relations that undermine citizenship. In so doing, they question the assumption that corporations are necessary for rural development, contending that the dominance of plantations stems from a political system that privileges corporations.

Virtual Tours to the Research Area

Virtual Tour of Plantation Life with Tania Murray Li
Virtual Tour of Plantation Life with Pujo Semedi

The expansion of oil palm plantation by year and area in Southeast Asia

West Indonesia

Kapuas River