The Fourth Circle: A Political Ecology of Sumatra's Rainforest Frontier

The Fourth Circle: A Political Ecology of Sumatra's Rainforest Frontier

by John F. McCarthy


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This book addresses the politics of environmental change in one of the richest areas of tropical rainforest in Indonesia. Based on field studies conducted in three agricultural communities in rural Aceh, this work considers a number of questions: How do customary (adat) village and state institutions work? What roles do they play in managing local resources? How have they evolved over time? Are villagers, state policies, or corrupt local networks responsible for the loss of tropical rainforest? Will better outcomes emerge from revitalizing customary management, from changing state policies, or from transforming the way the state works? And why do projects designed by outsiders so often fail?

The book describes how, as key actors interact, they create arrangements that effectively manage local resources, eclipsing adat and formal state management structures. While outside interventions try to work with adat and the state, they fail to engage fully with the main problem—that is, that district webs of power and interest, coalescing around local resources and reaching into the wider society, lead inexorably to environmental decline.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804752121
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 03/22/2006
Series: Contemporary Issues in Asia and Pacific
Edition description: 1
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

John McCarthy teaches at the Asia Pacific School of Economics and Governance at the Australian National University and was previously Research Fellow at the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Australia. He has published numerous articles and one previous book, Are Sweet Dreams Made of This?: The Impact of Tourism in Bali and Eastern Indonesia (1994).

Table of Contents

Tables, Maps, and Figuresxiii
Note on Terminologyxxv
1Introduction: Institutional Arrangements and Forest Regimes1
2Local Institutions in Sama Dua25
3Menggamat: Turning in Circles86
4Power and Interest in Badar149
5Conclusion: Institutional Arrangements in Southern Aceh199
6Epilogue: Alternative Policy Models: Lessons from Southern Aceh214
AppendixFieldwork in Aceh: Design, Context, and Experience257

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