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For the Sake of Forests and Gods - Forthcoming

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Author: Wolfram H. Dressler

For the Sake of Forests and Gods documents the consequences of nonstate actors impinging upon the existence of the Indigenous peoples in the remote highlands of Palawan Island, The Philippines. Nimble, focused, and well-funded, religious and environmental organizations increasingly assume governmental authority over the lives and livelihoods of the Pala'wan people within their ancestral territories.

Wolfram H. Dressler traces these actors' history and contemporary practices, revealing how they bypass the state to "govern the less governed." In the highlands, environmental NGOs valorize customary objects and practices to suppress swidden and support forest conservation, while evangelical missionaries regulate Pala'wan beliefs, health, and hygiene.

Bridging material studies and biopolitics, For the Sake of Forests and Gods explores how these nonstate actors use customary objects for comprehensive reforms of Pala'wan bodies and souls, centering on how the unique properties of the Tingkep basket mediates nonstate biopower. These reforms impact highlanders differently: some adopt biopolitical ideals willingly, others for political and economic gain. Yet others resist interventions, prioritizing family livelihoods. Ultimately, Dressler argues that Indigenous sovereignty matters more than ever as nonstate biopower intensifies in Southeast Asia's uplands.



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Publication Details

Publication Year: 2025

ISBN: 9781501779268