Author: Sophie Chao

Indigenous Mapmaking, or Bringing a Dead Map to Life

Sophie Chao , May 17th, 2022

Two Indigenous Marind clan representatives peruse a map of their customary territories produced by local village members. Sophie Chao Excerpted from In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-…


Allying With Parasites to Fight Industrial Oil Palm

Sophie Chao , October 19th, 2021

A Ganoderma fungus epidemic attacks oil palm trees at a plantation in Indonesian-controlled West Papua. Sophie Chao In October 2019, I traveled through an oil palm monocrop with…


What’s Left Unsaid When a Language Dies

Sophie Chao , November 19th, 2020

“Transition” by Papua New Guinean artist Philemon Yalamu. From Papua New Guinea: A New Dawn by Fondazione Imago Mundi/Luciano Benetton Collection. A Death in the Rainforest: How a Languag…


When Crisis Brings Us Closer: Reflecting on Family, Fieldwork, and Faraway Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic by Sophie Chao

Sophie Chao , April 1st, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic gains momentum, various forms and scales of lockdown and self-quarantine are being imposed across the world to halt the spread of the virus. With…


Corporate “Sorcerers” Reveal the Magical Power of Capitalism

Sophie Chao , January 22nd, 2020

The destruction of forests contributes to widespread drought through atmospheric processes that can seem like sorcery. Pixabay/Pexels To Indigenous Marind communities living in West Papua…


Is Hunger Culture-Bound? by Sophie Chao

Sophie Chao , June 7th, 2019

Over the last decade, indigenous Marind communities in the rural district of Merauke, West Papua, have seen vast swaths of their forests and savannas razed to make way…


“There Are No Straight Lines in Nature” – Making Living Maps in West Papua

Sophie Chao , May 17th, 2017

Droning destruction — aerial view of deforestation in Merauke. Source: Sophie Chao. (Un)settling the Scene Alongside melting glaciers, marine oil spills and sinking islands, large-scale monocrop p…

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In Deforestation’s Wake, Wild Animals Turn Troublesome

Sophie Chao , September 20th, 2016

Clear-cutting of forests in West Papua for large-scale oil palm cultivation is in some cases turning local wildlife into orphans, reshaping the relationship between local communities and the envi…


Elusive Caimans and the Anthropologist as Devil

Sophie Chao , April 26th, 2016

books and arts Lucas Bessire. 2014. Behold the Black Caiman: A Chronicle of Ayoreo Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 296 pages. Dust In this poignant and…

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