Anu Lounela, Ph.D. Anu Lounela

Snellmaninkatu 14 C
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Anu Lounela
is an anthropologist, University researcher in Development Studies, and Principal Investigator in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki. She is the Principal Investigator for the research project New regimes of commodification and state formation on the resource frontier of Southeast Asia (Kone Foundation). Her research concerns the frontier area of Central Kalimantan, which is experiencing rapid changes in legal and administrative regimes and rules that govern access and ownership to land and nature. Forest fires have become recurrent disasters, degrading sacred local forests and rubber and fruit gardens, and opening space for new commodity regimes. At the same time expansive corporations, climate-change mitigation and conservation efforts have brought national and global policies to the locality through peatland management and restoration schemes. Lounela will explore how state formation and commodity value production entangle within the socionatural landscape production at different scales.

Her PhD work on Contesting Forests and Power: Dispute Violence and Negotiation in Central Java (University of Helsinki, 2009) demonstrated how forest land disputes reveal the power positions of the parties in relation to state formation and her post-doctoral research has shown how local values are produced through action indicating difficult choices in the rapidly changing environment. This research has paid special attention to values and human-nature relations in the severely degraded swamp forest landscape that is prone to fires and floods, and how local populations reason their claims  in the dispute over climate change schemes across different scales. She expands this topic in her research on water and vulnerability in degraded swamp forest landscape in Central Kalimantan, in a research project Water and Vulnerability in Fragile Societies together with Anja Nygren and Mira Käkönen (Academy of Finland).

Her research interests include state formation, nature-people relations, value, dispute, climate change and ethnographic specialization is in Indonesia on the islands of Java and Borneo.


Tuomas Tammisto, Ph.D.

Snellmaninkatu 14 C
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Tuomas Tammisto conducts research in Papua New Guinea. The independent state of Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of New Guinea Island, while the western half forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. Both are resource rich areas which are regarded by foreign companies as holding potential for the expansion of natural resource extraction and industrial agriculture. Papua New Guinea has a substantial mineral extraction and mining sector, and it was the world’s largest exporter of tropical timber in 2014. New large-scale industrial agriculture projects are also underway. The majority of Papua New Guineans rely on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods and communally hold practically all land in the country, a situation recognized by state legislation. In many rural areas, however, a state presence and services are peripheral and forms of state organization are being locally constructed. As a part of the project, Tammisto focuses on the expansion of oil palm plantations in the rural Pomio District and examines how they are linked to the creation of infrastructure, provision of services, territorialization and various processes of state formation, especially local or bottom-up state making.

In his PhD, New Actors, Historic Landscapes: The Making of a Frontier Place in Papua New Guinea (University of Helsinki, 2018), Tammisto looked at how the Mengen people in the rural Pomio District of Papua New Guinea engage in siwdden horticulture, logging, wage labour on plantations and community conservation. These practices relate the Mengen to their environment, to each other and to outside actors, such as state officials, companies and NGOs, in different ways. They have also produced, reproduced and sometimes significantly changed in the forested environment of Pomio.

Tammisto’s research interests include agrarian change, class, environment, infrastructure, kinship, political ecology, production, space and place, territorialization and value.

Heikki Wilenius, Ph.D.
Snellmaninkatu 14 C
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

Heikki Wilenius is an anthropologist focusing on Indonesia. Previously, he has conducted research in the provinces of West Kalimantan and East Java, studying land-use practices in rural Kalimantan, and the work of municipal politicians in Java.

As part of the project, Wilenius will conduct research in the province of Central Kalimantan, studying the ways natural resources are commodified in the Pulang Pisau regency, and what kinds of state formation processes are attached to this commodification of nature.