NEWS

The 8th ‘Japan-ASEAN’ Seminar: “A critical physical geography of peat fire within socio-biophysical landscapes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia”

Date: 2018/10/10 (Wed) 15:30-18:00
Venue: Tonantei (R.201), Second Floor, Inamori Center, Kyoto
https://en.kyoto.cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp/access

Speaker: Dr. Jenny Goldstein (Assistant Professor in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University)

Title: A critical physical geography of peat fire within socio-biophysical landscapes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Moderator: Prof. Masaaki OKAMOTO, CSEAS, Kyoto University

Abstract:
Widespread drainage of Indonesia’s peatlands used for plantation agriculture has resulted in near-annual landscape-scale fires, causing severe air pollution, economic losses, and health impacts for millions of Southeast Asia residents. Yet not all fire in peatlands transition from a surface fire to a sub-surface peat fire, the latter of which is the source of the most dangerous air pollution. While draining peatlands creates the biophysical conditions that enable peat fires, specific fire occurrence depends on the interaction of biophysical and socio-political factors that create and respond to those conditions.
Based on cross-disciplinary field research with collaborators in a degraded peatland ecosystem in Central Kalimantan province, I take a Critical Physical Geography approach to argue that sub-surface peat fire behavior is dependent on a range of site-specific socio-political and biophysical dynamics that extend beyond peatland drainage and human-led fire ignition for agricultural land clearing. In particular, I analyze water table levels and available flammable surface vegetation as co-produced socio-biophysical dynamics in the landscape that are crucial for determining whether and where a surface fire transitions into a sub-surface peat fire. I then put these findings in context of the current politics of fire more broadly in Indonesia, and discuss implications for Kalimantan’s residents and future severe fire seasons.

About the Speaker:
Dr. Jenny Goldstein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. She has a PhD in Geography from UCLA and works across political ecology, critical development studies, and science and technology studies. She has been conducting qualitative fieldwork in Southeast Asia, particularly Kalimantan, since 2010 on the political economy of socio-ecological land use change and rural development. She is currently working on a book project on the politics of Indonesia’s peat fires and land restoration. Other research interests include the human health impacts of ecological change and the role of data infrastructures in land investment and environmental surveillance in Myanmar.

Contact: ASEAN Research Platform, CSEAS
dnaito[at]csase.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Co-recognized by CSEAS, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature

https://japan-asean.cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/