Women’s Grievances and Land Dispossession: Reading Landscapes through Papuan Independent Films





Land Dispossession, Papuan Independent Films, Indigenous Women's Livelihood, nature-culture landscapes, tropical forests and gardens


Papuan indigenous women depend on forests and gardens. Through forests, women play an important social-economic role in the community; through gardens, women practice care and reciprocity. Tropical forests, plant species, and animals are also their kin relations (Chao, 2018). Nature and culture are deeply intertwined. However, the role of women is disappearing along with deforestation and the large-scale expansion of oil palm plantations. Selecting independent documentary films mostly produced by Papuan Voices, a community network of indigenous Papuan filmmakers, this article describes women’s frustration at being separated from their lands and their discontent at being considered second-class citizens according to customary law. Women's lowly position in the Papuan patrilineal structure is utilized by the plantation industry to dispossess women from their forests and gardens, and thereby threaten their social-economic roles. This article concludes that land dispossession does not serve as a guarantee for development, but is deeply impoverishing.

Author Biography

Hatib Abdul Kadir, Universitas Brawijaya, Java, Indonesia

Dr Hatib A. Kadir is a cultural anthropologist and Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Universitas Brawijaya, Indonesia. He comes to this project with a rich history of collaborative research as well as expertise in the Maluku Islands and coastal Papua.  Hatib received a PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz. His PhD training was supported by a Fulbright Fellowship as well as a UCSC Dissertation Fellowship. During his training, he was chosen for a National Science Foundation summer workshop on ethnographic research in 2015. Since 2017, Hatib has conducted individual and collaborative research (with Anna Tsing) in the West Papua and Maluku Provinces.


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How to Cite

Kadir, H. A. (2022). Women’s Grievances and Land Dispossession: Reading Landscapes through Papuan Independent Films. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 21(1), 143–164. https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.21.1.2022.3843