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Reinventing Imperata: Revaluing Alang-Alang Grasslands in Indonesia

Potter, Lesley, Lee, Justin and Thorburn, Kathryn E. (2000). Reinventing Imperata: Revaluing Alang-Alang Grasslands in Indonesia. Development and Change,31(5):1037-1053.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations

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Title Reinventing Imperata: Revaluing Alang-Alang Grasslands in Indonesia
Author Potter, Lesley
Lee, Justin
Thorburn, Kathryn E.
Journal Name Development and Change
Publication Date 2000
Volume Number 31
Issue Number 5
ISSN 0012-155X   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-0033750338
Start Page 1037
End Page 1053
Total Pages 17
Place of Publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Abstract This article takes a new look at the economic value and cultural significance of Imperata cylindrica grasslands in Indonesia, drawing particularly on fieldwork in Bali, Lombok and West Timor, where the focus is on the use of alang-alang grass for roof thatch. The development of tourism has resulted in the commodification of thatch in Bali and Lombok for quality roofing and insulation. With its visual impact reinforcing its traditional cultural significance, the thatched roof has become a tourist artefact, its resulting high price elevating Imperata to the status of temporary cash crop and lucrative export. In West Timor, on the other hand, the grass has become a scarce commodity for roofing traditional houses. While it lacks the high prices of Bali-Lombok, in Timor the cheapness of thatch in this time of economic crisis has increased its value over alternatives. This article explores the valuing and revaluing of Imperata within various agro-ecological and economic niches, and provides case studies of some of the highly adaptive and opportunistic responses of local people to land-use change. While the Bali case represents an extreme example of the grass as commodity, the more significant view of its value is the place it continues to occupy, in a subsistence or contingency sense, in many rural economies.
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Created: Fri, 29 Aug 2014, 19:48:44 CST by Anthony Hornby