‘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.