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Lecture | Research Seminar

CADS Research Seminar | Women at the Cutting Edge

Monday 6 May 2019
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Women at the cutting edge. Logging and gender in Solomon Islands

How does industrial logging affect women’s well-being in Solomon Islands? I will discuss this question based on ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted on the island of Malaita between 2016-2018. Large-scale commercial logging in Solomon Islands began in the early 1980s and the country currently is a major supplier to the world’s leading importer and exporter of tropical hardwood, China. On Malaita, logging takes place on so-called ‘customary’ land that is collectively owned by patrilineal clans. In order to gain access to this land, (foreign) logging companies, through local brokers and with very little interference from the State, make benefit-sharing arrangements with these clans. While these deals are notorious for serving only a very small elite, women benefit least of all and they are profoundly affected by the social and environmental impacts of logging. In this talk I will provide ethnographic evidence of the highly gender inequitable nature of benefit and burden distribution from logging. I will show how this compounds already strained gender-relations in a context of rapid social change. I will also draw attention to the ways in which some Malaitan women have begun their own parallel logging operations and I will suggest that these businesses can offer an alternative model for more socially inclusive, and locally beneficial resource extraction. 


Tessa Minter is assistant professor and Marie-Curie fellow at the Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. Her research and teaching focus on environmental anthropology, and specifically on forest-dependent and coastal peoples’ adaptation to social and environmental change in the Asia-Pacific region.

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