Teak and Temptation on the Extreme Periphery: Cultural Perspectives on Forest Crime

Nancy Lee Peluso

in Rich Forests, Poor People

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780520073777
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520915534 | DOI:
Teak and Temptation on the Extreme Periphery: Cultural Perspectives on Forest Crime

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This chapter describes village resistance in the form of “counter-appropriation” of teak by the villagers who plant it, harvest it, or live in the midst of it. Counter-appropriation is a more fitting term than “theft” because villagers feel no remorse in taking this wood from the state forest. The combination of the villagers' need for additional income and the high price of teak have attracted professional blackmarket wood merchants and other unauthorized teak brokers. Two major conclusions can be drawn from this case study of forest reappropriation. First, in many teak forest villages, the counter-appropriation of teak is a way of life, embedded within local culture, economic imperative, and everyday politics. Second, despite the motives of people to resist external control, village appropriators are used by outsiders on both sides of the law who accumulate capital at the villagers' risk. The interactions between villagers, foresters, and outsiders are so intertwined that bigger issues of long-term forest sustainability get lost in the labyrinth of public and private transactions.

Keywords: villagers; teak forests; theft; counter-appropriation; blackmarket wood merchants

Chapter.  14699 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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