Areas of Interest / Research Keywords: Economy, development, poverty, land, work, welfare, agriculture, resources, community, class, indigeneity, capitalism, plantation corporations
Research Region: Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Asia
Tania Li’s early research in Southeast Asia concerned urban cultural politics in Singapore. Since then she has focused on culture, economy, environment, and development in Indonesia’s upland regions. She has written about the rise of Indonesia’s indigenous peoples’ movement, land reform, rural class formation, struggles over the forests and conservation, community resource management, state-organized resettlement and the problems faced by people who are pushed off the land in contexts where they have little or no access to waged employment. Her book The Will to Improve explores a century of interventions by colonial and contemporary officials, missionaries, development experts and activists. Powers of Exclusion examines agrarian transition to see what happens to farmers’ access to land in the context of competing land uses (e.g. conservation, urban sprawl, plantation agriculture). Her prize-winning book Land’s End tracks the emergence of capitalist relations among indigenous highlanders when they enclosed their common land. Plantation Life explores the forms of social, political, cultural and economic life that emerge in Indonesia’s oil palm plantation zone.
Honours and Awards
2019 Elected honorary fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute UK
2019 Winner, President’s Impact Award, University of Toronto
2018 Appointed to the rank of University Professor, University of Toronto
2018 Winner, SSHRC Impact Award (Insight category)
2017 Outstanding Teaching Award, Faculty of Arts and Science
2016 George T McKahin Prize, Association for Asian Studies (for Land's End)
2016 Senior Book Prize, American Ethnological Association (for Land's End).
2015 Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
2004-2018 Canada Research Chair, Tier One, renewed
In press Li, T and P. Semedi Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation in Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone, Duke University Press
2011 Hall, D, P. Hirsch and T. Li. Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia, Singapore and Honolulu: National University of Singapore Press / University of Hawaii Press.
*2020 Kuasa Eksklusi: Dilema Pertanahan de Asia Tenggara translation into Indonesian INSIST press/ STPN (Indonesian Land University)
2007 Li, T. The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics, Durham: Duke University Press. *Translated and republished in Indonesia by Marjin Kiri, 2012. Translated and republished in French as Agir pour les Autres, Paris:Karthala Press, 2020
*Translated and republished in Indonesia by Marjin Kiri, 2012. Under translation into Chinese at Beijing Agricultural University; under translation into French for Kartala Press. Citations May 2018 2600
1999 Li, T. Transforming the Indonesian Uplands: Marginality, Power and Production (editor). London: Routledge.
*Translated and published in Indonesia by Obor Foundation, Jakarta 2002.
1989 Li, T. Malays in Singapore: Culture. Economy and Ideology. New York and Singapore: Oxford University Press.
*Translated into Malay and published by Forum press, Kuala Lumpur 1995.
Recent Articles (from 2016)
2021 Li, T. Commons, co-ops, and corporations: assembling Indonesia’s twenty-first century land reform. The Journal of Peasant Studies 1-27. DOI 10.1080/03066150.2021.1890718
2020 Li, T. Epilogue: Customary Land Rights and Politics, 25 Years On
The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 21 (1), 77-84
2019 Li, T. Politics, Interrupted, Anthropological Theory 19(1):29-53
2017 Li, T. After the land grab: Infrastructural violence and the “Mafia System” in Indonesia's oil palm plantation zones. Geoforum 96, 328-337.
2017 Li, T. After Development: Surplus Population and the Politics of Entitlement. Development and Change, 48: 1247–1261.
2017 Li, T. Intergenerational displacement in Indonesia’s oil palm plantation zone. Journal of Peasant Studies 44(6):1158-1176.
2017 Li, T. Rendering land investible: Five notes on time. Geoforum. 82:276-278
2017 Li, T. The price of un/freedom: Indonesia's colonial and contemporary plantation labour regimes. Comparative Studies in Society and History 59(2):245-276
2016 Li, T. Alexandre Pelletier, and Arianto Sangadji. Unfree Labour and Extractive Regimes in Colonial Java and Beyond (book review essay). Development and Change 17(3): 598–611