Human-vegetal childhoods: Insights from a Papuan Plantationocene

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Speaker: Sophie Chao (The University of Sydney)

Title: Human-vegetal childhoods: Insights from a Papuan Plantationocene


In this talk, Dr Chao will draw on her book, In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua (Duke University Press, 2022) to examine how deforestation and industrial oil palm expansion are transforming children and child-rearing practices among the Indigenous Marind People of Merauke, West Papua. In particular, Chao will attend to the indexical and antagonistic relationship between human children and two plants of particular significance to Marind – the native and kindred sago palm, and the introduced and occupying oil palm. Situating her ethnographic material against the spatio-temporal formation of the “Papuan Plantationocene,” Chao will invite an expansion of the category of the child to encompass Indigenous epistemologies and praxiologies of distributed human-vegetal growth and relationality.


Sophie Chao is a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Department of Anthropology. Her research investigates the intersections of capitalism, ecology, Indigeneity, health, and justice in the Pacific region. Sophie Chao previously worked for Indigenous rights organization Forest Peoples Programme in Indonesia. Her current DECRA project explores the diverse perceptions, practices, and knowledges surrounding human-kangaroo relations in Australia. For more information, please visit


  • When ?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm

  • Where ?

ULB - Campus du Solbosch

Institut de Sociologie (building S)

Room Rokkan - 12th floor

44 avenue Jeanne - 1050 Bruxelles