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Wild Profusion

Wild Profusion: Biodiversity Conservation in an Indonesian Archipelago

Celia Lowe
Series: In-Formation
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Wild Profusion
    Book Description:

    Wild Profusiontells the fascinating story of biodiversity conservation in Indonesia in the decade culminating in the great fires of 1997-98--a time when the country's environment became a point of concern for social and environmental activists, scientists, and the many fishermen and farmers nationwide who suffered from degraded environments and faced accusations that they were destroying nature. Celia Lowe argues that biodiversity, in 1990s Indonesia, implied a particular convergence of nature, nation, science, and identity that made Indonesians' mapping of the concept distinct within transnational practices of nature conservation at the time.

    Lowe recounts the efforts of Indonesian biologists to document the species of the Togean Islands, to "develop" Togean people, and to turn this archipelago off the coast of Sulawesi into a national park. Indonesian scientists aspired to a conservation biology that was both internationally recognizable and politically effective in the Indonesian context. Simultaneously, Lowe describes the experiences of Togean Sama people who had their own understandings of nature and nation. To place Sama and scientist into the same conceptual frame, Lowe studies Sama ideas in the context of transnational thought rather than local knowledge.

    In tracking the practice of conservation biology in a postcolonial setting,Wild Profusionexplores what in nature can count as important and for whom.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4970-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
    (pp. 1-26)

    In April of 1996, I hiked through the upland forest that runs along the narrow central crest of Malenge Island with two biologists from Jakarta, Yakup and Budi, and with Pak Ahmad, a local ranger hired by the scientists to work at their research station, Camp Uemata.¹ We were there to collect new forms of herpefauna: lizards, snakes, and frogs. Together we scrambled up muddy slopes, grabbing hold of verdant branches and shrubs to pull us up, breathing hard. We scanned the trees for pythons and the ground for lizards. In the clearings we stopped to gaze at the vistas...

  7. Part One Diversity as Milieu

    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 27-32)

      In retrospect,Indonesians were rethinking diversity in relation to both nature and nation during the waning Suharto years. On the one hand, national norms for nature and its uses were being called into question. Were Indonesia’s trees and minerals to be a resource for logging and mining and other forms of elite national development, or was Indonesian nature a resource for “the people” (rakyat) to create a healthy subsistence? Parameters of social inclusion and exclusion in the nation were likewise under revision. Would acceptable cultural difference continue to be narrowly defined by the modernist state, or might new forms of...

    • Chapter One MAKING THE MONKEY
      (pp. 33-52)

      Togean Island biodiversity was not at all self-evident in the beginning of the 1990s. Nor was the archipelago’s appropriateness as a new national park. In order for the Togean landscape to move from “poor in representatives” (as it was in 1865) to “rich in biodiversity” (which, by the mid-1990s, it had become), the “facts” of Togean biodiversity awaited their empirical demonstration and social emergence (Latour and Woolgar 1986; Shapin and Schaffer 1985). Such a representation of Togean nature was encompassed by the work of species inventory in the emergent field of conservation biology. Key to the appearance of biodiverse nature...

    • Chapter Two THE SOCIAL TURN
      (pp. 53-74)

      At Camp Uemata I met a scientist named Laksmi, an IFABS biologist who maintained a strong interest in Togean people and who was concerned with how regimes of conservation and development could become coercive. Similar to the way many anthropologists have been attracted to their field, Laksmi’s interest in Indonesia’s fishers and farmers developed through an early encounter with representations of Native Americans.¹ When she was young, Laksmi had read the works of German novelist Karl May translated into Indonesian. Unlike the depictions of the valiant cowboy and treacherous Indian of American film and literature, May painted a picture of...

  8. Part Two Togean Cosmopolitics

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 75-80)

      Through the idea of global nature-at-risk, biodiversity entails a cosmopolitan imagining of community beyond the nation or region in which any given instance of species uniqueness or diversity is found. For Indonesian scientists deeply committed to the idea of the nation, rather than subverting the idea of “Indonesia,” the practice of biodiversity conservation reinforced a project of Indonesia-in-the-making. And despite these transnational or national ambitions, biologists developed the case for threatened global nature through the regional microsite of the Togean Islands. In the contingent assemblage of plants, animals, and people that came together in the Togean project to produce a...

      (pp. 81-105)

      Sama People, in 1990s Indonesia, were imagined as extraterrestrial others: both living beyond the land and alien. They were called Indonesia’s “floating peoples” (suku terapung) and were seen as one of many “alien ethnicities” (suku terasing) scattered across Indonesia’s far-flung hinter-lands. Representations of Sama identity emerged within the ambit of two ethnographic facts. First, next to the Chinese in Southeast Asia, Sama belong to the most territorially expansive ethnic group in the region, living as they do along the coasts and strands of much of insular Southeast Asia. Unlike Bugis or Mandar (other Southeast Asian “seafarers”) who have well-defined homelands,...

      (pp. 106-128)

      As I was standing in the doorway to Puah Marsipe’s house one day, her son Udin fell to the ground in front of me. Udin’s body began to jerk, his arms flailed, and his head rolled from side to side. His trance immediately brought on a dense crowd of concerned relatives and onlookers, and Puah Hamid, who was a healer (dukun), was called from next door. Hamid began to suck the spirit out from Udin’s head and stomach. Udin’s mother was terrified, as scared as the day her two year old got dysentery. I examined Udin’s body. He was only...

  9. Part Three Integrating Conservation and Development

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 129-134)

      The Integrated Conservation and Development Program (ICDP) was a particular solution to the problem of nature and the human that operated at a global scale within 1990s biodiversity conservation. The idea of integrating conservation with programs of economic development was based upon two premises: first, communities that live near biodiverse nature put that nature at risk, and second, prior efforts at nature conservation failed because they did not take into sufficient consideration the economic needs of people living near protected areas. ICDPs propose that people who live in or near conservation areas have a right to make a living from...

      (pp. 135-153)

      On only my third day in Susunang, in January of 1996, I witnessed a major event in the history of Togean cyanide fishing, one of the methods of fishing that most concerned conservationists. Walking through the village that day I encountered several men arguing over some jerry cans and stopped to see what the ruckus was about. Sitting quietly at the edge of the action, I asked my friend Udin what was happening. He told me that the crew of a fishing boat had been “arrested” by the village. The boat had been fishing for live fish close to the...

    • Chapter Six THE SLEEP OF REASON
      (pp. 154-166)

      On October 19, 2004, after more than a decade of species inventory, ecotourism initiatives, and social surveys, the efforts of the IFABS scientists finally bore fruit and the Minister of Forestry issued a decree (GOI 2004a) establishing the Togean Islands National Park (Taman Nasional Kepulauan Togean). Letters from the governor of Central Sulawesi and the Bupati of Tojo Una-Una Regency supported the federal-level legislation. In justifying the creation of the park, the decree mentions the Togean Islands’ natural diversity, including 262 species of corals, 596 species of fish, 555 types of mollusks, pilot whales, and a profusion of land fauna...

  10. Appendix: Scientific, Military, and Commercial Explorations in the Togean Islands and Vicinity: 1680–1999
    (pp. 167-170)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 171-180)
  12. References
    (pp. 181-192)
  13. Index
    (pp. 193-196)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-197)