Extracurricular ≥ Palmistry for Plantations

Palmistry for Plantations

‘Palmistry for Plantations’ was a two-part miniseries developed by Struggles for Sovereignty in the context of ‘The Forest Is In The City Is In The Forest-II’; a four month online programme of lectures, performances and workshops curated by The Forest Curriculum in collaboration with RAT Projects and RAT school of Art, Korea, and supported of the Art Council Korea, the Goethe Institut Korea and in association with the GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy.


‘Palmistry for Plantations’ (13 & 20 November 2020) began from an understanding that the global ecological crisis is tied to colonial, imperialist and capitalist systems; and that racism, pandemic, and climate crisis are symptoms of these same root causes. As communities in the Global South face increasingly harsher realities as a result of climate change, agrarian struggles for land, water and food sovereignty are a frontline in resisting the destruction of our planet, and key for sharing and learning the situated knowledge needed to build alternative futures.

The two events in the mini-series centred on the plantation as a site where colonial histories of violence (against land and communities) and the neoliberal extractivist present overlap. We looked at the development of plantations in Indonesia, particularly palm oil; the destructive practices of plantation companies; and community, cultural and artistic initiatives that offer models of resistance and/or subsistence-based alternatives.

For the first session, on 13 November 2020, we invited Zenzi Suhadi, Head of the Department of Research, Advocacy, and Environmental Law at WALHI (the Indonesian Forum for the Environment) to share about his activist work and the complex reality of plantations in Indonesia. The following week, we organised a study group, in which we collectively watched, read and discussed the work of two cultural groups that organise themselves against the power of the plantation, namely: Institute Mosintuwu, Poso, Sulawesi, Indonesia; and Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), Lusanga, Democratic Republic of Congo. 


Screenshot from the talk “Oil Palm Domi/Nation” by Zenzi Suhadi, showing land use and plantation concessions in the Indonesian archipelago in 2015. Part of our two-part online series “Palmistry for Plantations”, Nov 2020.


Screenshot from the talk “Oil Palm Domi/Nation” by Zenzi Suhadi, part of our two-part online series “Palmistry for Plantations”, November 2020.

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