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Past Event

Saturday University: Durian Trees and Landscape Change

Mar 2 2019

Seattle Art Museum

Plestcheeff Auditorium

10 AM – 11:30 AM

Fruit Trees, Family Trees, and Landscape Change: The Durians of West Kalimantan, Indonesia
Nancy Lee Peluso, University of California, Berkeley

Durian trees are known by their Southeast Asian producers to be kings and queens of the forest. The trees and their fruits are revered in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Durian's giant, spiny fruits grow on branches high above forest canopies as well as in backyard gardens. They are icons of family, inheritance, and landscape history in Borneo: more than one fight over the ownership of these trees has been recorded in customary court files or remembered through the many generations that durian trees live and produce. The siren scent of durian flowers and the ripe fruit have inspired poetry and fantastical prose by the tree's admirers and nose scrunching or curses by those less seduced by it. Love it or hate it, the tree is a socially and ecologically spectacular component of the living and working landscapes of Indonesian Borneo.

About the Presenter

Nancy Lee Peluso is Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy, University of California, Berkeley. She has been known to begin a lecture by taking a machete to a durian fruit. She is a political ecologist and has studied natural resources and landscape change in Indonesia for several decades. Her love of Indonesia and durian and its many social lives began in Java but sustained her through research in East and West Kalimantan.

Please note: South Hall doors open at 9:30 am.


JAN 19

The Harmonic Forest: Musical Structures Heard as Trees

JAN 26

The First Satyagraha: Gandhi's Campaign Against Indigo Plantations in Early 20th-Century India


The Story of the Camellia


Soybean Worlds

FEB 16

Jute and Peasant Life in the Bengal Delta


Durian and Landscape Change in West Kalimantan, Indonesia


The Japanese Basket 1845–1958: Mirror of Modernity



Full series tickets: $73; SAM members $39
SAVE: winter and spring series: $120; SAM members $62
Individual lecture tickets available at the door: $11, SAM members $6; free at the door for students with ID
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Image: Creative Commons CC0

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.