Oil palm

Oil_PalmBernice Maxton-Lee, from the Department of Asian and International Studies at the City University of Hong Kong, has reviewed The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1209229) for JCA.

The Oil Palm Complex, published by NUS Press, is co-edited by Rob Cramb and John F. McCarthy and “draws on extensive experience to provide insights into the political economy of palm oil.” Maxton-Lee observes that the “story of the oil palm industry in Indonesia and Malaysia, its diverse and convergent interests and production relations is remarkably complex and nuanced” where a “diverse mix of agendas, ideologies and production relations combine to form a compelling and seductive momentum for oil palm expansion on a massive scale.” The result is massive land clearance, deforestation, forest fires and monoculture.

Maxton-Lee concludes that the chapters in this collection reveal “much about the development of capitalist relations of production in the Indonesian and Malaysian industrial palm oil complex. It also opens important areas for further study.” She says that The Oil Palm Complex is “an important reference for scholars seeking to understand the contexts, logics and dynamics of a system which represents multiple impulses.” Editors Cramb and McCarthy bring together authors in a collection that “provides a reference point to facilitate deeper understanding of production relations and the processes of persuasion, seduction and manipulation which comprise the logic of oil palm expansion.”

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