“There’s gold in them thar stink!” : durian capitalism in the age of post-human conservation

Choo, Tze Shien (2020) “There’s gold in them thar stink!” : durian capitalism in the age of post-human conservation. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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Durian is a delicacy treasured in the communities of Southeast Asia. Its distinct taste and smell turns many away, but for its fans, it is a seasonal treat that fetches a pretty hefty sum for certain varieties. China particular had fallen in love with the stinky fruit and have been creating many weird culinary concoctions with durian. Malaysia sees this as a potential industry that could have massive growth, particularly for its prized Musang King durian variety that is gaining in popularity among Chinese consumers, and with recent issues with its other crop commodity, palm oil, ranging from accusations of deforestation, loss of flora and fauna and loss of Orang Asli Indigenous rights to their ancestral land that is leading to calls for its boycott in Europe, to a fall in crude palm oil prices that is leaving this commodity in its decline, durian could potentially be Malaysia’s next big export crop. However there are concerns that it may also follow the same destructive path as palm oil, and that may be true with recent incidences of deforestation and conflicts with indigenous Orang Asli where new durian plantations are being opened in the states of Kelantan and Pahang.

This paper asserts that, though durian cultivation may bring these said issues, certain aspects of its cultivation process prevents it from following this destructive path, and that it would be wiser for durian stakeholders (investors, farmers, exporters and policymakers) to put more effort into more holistic approaches to durian cultivation by utilising organic style farming practices and advocating for protection of rainforests, and perhaps in doing so, they could collaborate with Orang Asli communities to better protect the environment as well. It is the aim of this paper to understand the emergence of durian capitalism in Malaysia, the industry that is fuelled by Chinese demands for the delicacy and what type of post-human conservation ideas could be applied to abate potential environmental and social disaster. Utilising Anne-Lowenthaupt Tsing’s (2015) idea of precarity and world-making projects that looks into the interspecies relationships of multiple nodes with Gilles Deleuze’s and Félix Guattari’s (1987) idea of the assemblage will also help highlight how durian is reliant on its relationship with other organisms for its own survival and proliferation, one that stakeholders may have to consider and better protect, to ensure maximum production output of durians.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: durian, conservation, post-humanism, world-making practices, assemblage
Depositing User: Choo, Tze
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2020 03:42
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 10:32
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/59058

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