Policy narratives, landholder engagement, and oil palm expansion on the Malaysian and Indonesian frontiers

McCarthy, J. F. and Cramb, R. A. (2009) Policy narratives, landholder engagement, and oil palm expansion on the Malaysian and Indonesian frontiers. The Geographical Journal, 175 2: 112-123. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4959.2009.00322.x

Author McCarthy, J. F.
Cramb, R. A.
Title Policy narratives, landholder engagement, and oil palm expansion on the Malaysian and Indonesian frontiers
Journal name The Geographical Journal   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0016-7398
Publication date 2009-03-26
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4959.2009.00322.x
Volume 175
Issue 2
Start page 112
End page 123
Total pages 12
Editor Philip Hirsh
Niels Fold
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified
919999 Economic Framework not elsewhere classified
Abstract Over recent decades a structural transformation has affected agriculture in the frontier areas of Malaysian Borneo and Outer Island Indonesia with the rapid conversion of agricultural lands, fallows, and formerly forested areas into oil palm. These frontiers have similar positions in the international political economy of oil palm and have complementary resource endowments. In both cases, state planners face the common challenges of finding a disciplined labour force, delivering land for estate development, maintaining local legitimacy, and dealing with local contestation. Yet there are significant differences in systems of governance and policy frameworks regarding land, shifting capacity of state actors to facilitate the transformation of these agrarian frontiers, and changing degrees of local, national and international contestation. Considering the generic and the specific elements at play in each case, this paper argues that analogous policy narratives have shaped the ways in which landholders have been engaged in the process of oil palm expansion in Malaysia and Indonesia. In both cases, with the shift from state-led to neoliberal governance approaches to agricultural development, the 'frontier' has been created and transformed through policy narratives that facilitate the conversion of whole landscapes into oil palm. This has been achieved by obscuring indigenous forms of agriculture and land tenure, while creating reserves of available 'state' or 'idle' customary land, and counterpoising smallholder 'marginality' and 'backwardness' to the modernity of contemporary estate agriculture.
Keyword Indonesia
agrarian change
policy narratives
comparative method
frontier development
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Additional Notes © 2010 Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 61 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 03 Sep 2009, 08:07:01 EST by Mr Andrew Martlew on behalf of School of Integrative Systems