Michael R. Dove

Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology; Professor of Anthropology, Curator of Anthropology Peabody Museum; Co-Coordinator, Joint F&ES/Anthropology Doctoral Program; Chair Council on Southeast Asian Studies

Michael R. Dove is on leave.
Spring 2018


Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change

Climate Cultures: Anthropological Perspectives on Climate Change

2015. With Jessica Barnes. In: Yale Agrarian Studies Series, James C. Scott ed. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press. viii + 328 pp., ill.
Science, Society, and Environment: Applying Physics and Anthropology to Sustainability Cover

Science, Society, and Environment: Applying Physics and Anthropology to Sustainability

2015. With Daniel M. Kammen. Abingdon (UK): Routledge. xiv + 163 pp., ill.
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The Anthropology of Climate Change: A Historical Reader

2014. Malden (MA): Wiley/Blackwell. xiv + 344 pp. Ill.

The Banana Tree at the Gate: The History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo

2012. East/Southeast Asia edition. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press. xix + 332 pp., ill. 
Beyond the Sacred Forest

Beyond the Sacred Forest: Complicating Conservation in Southeast Asia

2011. Co-editor with P.E. Sajise & A.A. Doolittle. Durham (NC): Duke U. Press. xiii + 372 pp., ill.

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book Beyond the Sacred Forest: Complicating Conservation in Southeast Asia (Duke University Press). This book is the product of a unique, decade-long, interdisciplinary collaboration involving research in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and it reflects new thinking about conservation in Southeast Asia. Scholars from these countries and the United States rethink the translation of environmental concepts between East and West, particularly ideas of nature and culture; the meaning of conservation; and the ways that conservation policy is applied and transformed in the everyday landscapes of Southeast Asia.

For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visit:
The Banana Tree at the Gate

The Banana Tree at the Gate: The History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo

2011. New Haven (CT): Yale University Press. xix + 332 pp., ill.

The “Hikayat Banjar,” a seventeenth-century native court chronicle from Southeast Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as “the banana tree at the gate.” Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system, standing on its head the prevailing view of resource-poor and economically marginal tropical forest dwellers. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo’s native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful. This success is based on the development of a “dual” household economy, with distinct subsistence- and market-oriented sectors, which has historically made these “smallholders” extremely competitive with the large-scale, heavily capitalized, state-supported plantation sector. Dove sheds new light on the nature of smallholders and in particular their relationship with the global economic system. He demonstrates that processes of globalization began millennia ago and that they have been more diverse and less teleological than often thought. His analysis replaces the image of the isolated tropical forest community that needs to be helped into the global system with the reality of communities that have been so successful and competitive that they have had to fight political elites to keep from being forced out. The ubiquitous but historically inaccurate emphasis on isolation and resource-poverty disguises the fact that the overweening characteristic of these communities is their political marginality and that their greatest want is not to be uplifted economically but to be empowered politically.

For more information, please visit the publisher's page.
For Asian reprint edition, please visit
Southeast Asian Grasslands: Understanding a Vernacular Landscape

Southeast Asian Grasslands: Understanding a Vernacular Landscape

2008. New York: The New York Botanical Garden Press. 372 pp., ill.

Local communities and extra-local development agencies often hold diametrically opposing views of grasslands, with the former seeing them as an integral component of their agro-ecology and the latter seeing them as wastelands. Villagers may see grasslands as fragile, whereas officials see them as tenacious. In part as a result, development interventions intended to convert grasslands to other covers or uses have been quite problematic.

The roots of this pattern of conflicted intellectual and developmental engagement with grasslands extend back into the colonial administrations of the nineteenth century and, in particular, to their concern for estate crop production and their biases against extensive, subsistence agriculture. Although contests over the interpretation and management of grasslands have thus dominated their management for a century and a half, research on tropical grasslands has focused and continues to focus largely on their bio-physical dimensions. This suggests a need to better understand tropical grasslands and local management practices and also to better understand how this very understanding is constrained by historical, cultural, and institutional factors.

The purpose of this volume is to examine some of these constraints, based on canonical studies from the past half-century on Southeast Asia, which has some of the most extensive and most intensely debated grasslands in the world. These studies reveal that the evidence to understand the dynamics of these grasslands has long been available, but it has generally had little or no impact on grassland policy. Indeed, they demonstrate that policy regarding the region’s grasslands has been dominated for a century and more by a persistent set of beliefs that are completely divorced from everyday reality. The perspective afforded by the studies in this volume encourages us to think not just about environmental problems, but also about the sociology of the science and policy that addresses such problems.

More information, how to order.
Environmental Anthropology: An Historical Reader

Environmental Anthropology: An Historical Reader

2007. Co-editor with C. Carpenter. Boston: Blackwell. xxi + 480 pp., ill.

Environmental Anthropology: A Historical Reader is a collection of historically significant readings, dating from early in the twentieth century up to the present, on the cross-cultural study of relations between people and their environment. Like the focus of many environmental movements, much recent work in ecological anthropology has been crisis-driven, with a focus on the here and now. Often missing from this work is a wider perspective---including the context in which the research itself is being done. Current work on the human dimensions of deforestation or global climate change, for example, can be informed and strengthened by an understanding of the century-old intellectual lineage of the underlying issues. Divided into five thematic sections, this collection provides rare insight into the evolution of environmental anthropology specifically and environmental studies more generally. These selections, along with extensive commentary by the volume’s editors, offer a unique perspective on current interest in cross-cultural environmental relations.

More information, table of contents, how to order.
Conserving Nature in Culture: Case Studies from Southeast Asia

Conserving Nature in Culture: Case Studies from Southeast Asia

2005. Co-editor with P. Sajise and A. Doolittle. Southeast Asia Monograph Series, Volume 54, Yale University. xvii + 348 pp., ill.

This volume presents the results of an international, multi-year, collaborative project designed to transcend orthodox thinking about environmental conservation. The project focuses on Southeast Asia and was developed in a series of research and writing workshops held in the region, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It was prompted by the widespread acknowledgment of the failure of global conservation programs, to which the project participants' response was not simply to propose new and improved programs but to first ask why conservation programs have failed so consistently?

The thesis that underpins this volume is that the principal conservation paradigm has been flawed in the way that it construes the relationship between local communities and their environments. The contributors to this volume reverse the popular problematic that assigns responsibility for environmental degradation to proximate communities and asks how the global conservation community can help these communities to reform. Instead, the contributors first ask what local communities are already doing that contributes to environmental conservation and then ask how the global community can avoid undermining these efforts and perhaps even support them. This reversal elides the popular but pernicious dichotomization of conservation and development; it also elides the related and equally pernicious dichotomization of nature and culture (much of the volume, for example, is devoted to assessing the way that biodiversity is conserved on everyday agricultural landscapes).

In documenting the way that many societies conserve resources in the course of everyday activities, the contributions to this volume question formal, state-led conservation interventions, the planned character of which itself reintroduces and is often doomed by the vision of a dichotomy between society and environment. Finally, the contributions to this volume show how the views of Northern and Southern scholars, of natural scientists and social scientists, can converge on many of these issues but still differ. This analytic diversity, these multiple voices, is no less important to valorize and conserve than diversity in nature.

More information, table of contents, how to order.

Sociology of Natural Resources, In Pakistan and Adjoining Countries

1992. Co-ed. with C. Carpenter. Lahore: Vanguard Press for Mashal Foundation. vii + 458 pp., ill.
The Real and Imagined Role of Culture in Development: Case Studies from Indonesia

The Real and Imagined Role of Culture in Development: Case Studies from Indonesia

1988. Editor. Honolulu: U. of Hawaii Press. xiii + 289 pp., ill.

"The ethnographic reporting of this book is first-rate, and the volume as a whole makes an important contribution to our understanding of the impact of development on Indonesia's imperiled periphery." - Robert Hefner, Human Ecology

For more information please visit Professor Dove's Author page on Amazon.com, where used copies may be found.
Manusia Dan Alang-Alang Di Indonesia

Manusia Dan Alang-Alang Di Indonesia

Masalah alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica) langsung atau tak langsung telah menjangkau tingkat nacional.  Luas Padang alang-alang dewasa ini mencapai 32% luas daratan Indonesia (Suryatna dan McIntosh, 1976).  Sering pelaksanaan kebijaksanaan pemerintah, misalnya dalam bidang pertanian, transmigrasi, reboisasi dan lain-lain, pada Padang alang-alang terbentur pada problema yang serius.  Informasi tentang bagaimana proses Padang alang-alang ini terjadi, sifat-sifat dan interaksinya dengan masyarakat setempat masih sangat diperlukan.
Banyak kepustakaan menyebutkan bahwa eksistensi padang alang-alang di Indonesia dipengaruhi kondisi sosial masyarakat (Ivens, 1976; Whyte, 1968; Bartlett, 1956; Burkill, 1935; Conklin, 1957; Dove, 1980, 1981; Suwardi, 1980; S. Jessup, 1980).  Karena itu perlu dikaji mendalam interaksi antara padang alang-alang dan masyarakat.
Sistem Perladangan di Indonesia

Sistem Perladangan di Indonesia

Semboyan nasional Indonesia ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ memaksud bahwa keragaman suku bangsa dan bahasa secara resmi diakui sebagai suatu sumber bangsa.  Yang dimaksud dengan perbedaan di sini lebih dari perbedaan bahasa, adat istiadat, dan pakaian.  Ternyata sebagian besar yang menyebabkan perbedaan kelompok suku bangsa tersebut adalah adaptasi terhadap lingkungan masing- masing.  Batas-batas wilayah Indonesia meliputi bermacam-macam lingkungan fisik, dan keanekaragaman ini memaksa penduduk setempat masing-masing mengembangkan suatu sistem tersendiri untuk memperoleh mata pencaharian.  Memang, tidak banyak negara di dunia ini yang memilik sedemikian banyak perbedaan sistem untuk mengeksploitasi daerah pantai, dataran rendah, hutan dan pegunungan.

Dalam memahami pentingnya membangun, kebhinnekaan ini kadang-kadang secara salah dipandang sebagai suatu rintangan, dan sistem-sistem tradicional ini untuk mengeksploitasi lingkungan dipandang seperti sistem “terbelakang” yang perlu dilenyapkan secepat mungkin.  Ini adalah pandangan yang salah.  Untuk mengeksploitasi lingkungan, masing-masing sistem tradicional ini merupakan penghasilan dari percobaan dan pelajaran selama ribuan tahun.  Bahkan sekarang banyak sistem tradicional ini dapat mengeksploitasi lingkungan fisik yang sulit di Indonesia lebih baik dari sistem yang pernah dibuat oleh para pakar universitas.  Dengan demikian sistem tradicional ini memberikan sumber negara yang bernilai.  Sistem tersebut merupakan kunci dalam menciptakan kekuatan kebhinnekaan sosial dan fisikal bangsa Indonesia yang tercermin dalam semboyan nacional tersebut.

Sehubungan dengan itu maka pemerintah perlu diubah posisinya ke arah sistem eksploitasi tradicional ini.  Adalah lebih baik menelaah bagaimana cara yang baik menggunakan sistem tersebut sebagai titik awal pembangunan, daripada menelaah cara terbaik untuk menggantikannya.  Untuk melakukan hal ini, pertama-tama diperlukan pemahaman atas sistem tersebut, dan untuk hal yang terinci ini, diperlukan studi yang mendalam.  Buku ini menyajikan hasil upaya saya dalam melakukan usaha semacam itu terhadap suatu sistem pertanian tradicional di hutan-hutan Kalimantan Barat.
Peranan Kebudayaan Tradisional Indonesia Dalam Modernisasi

Peranan Kebudayaan Tradisional Indonesia Dalam Modernisasi

Banyak usaha pemerintah untuk memecahkan masalah kemiskinan, terutama di daerah pedesaan, kelihatannya didasarkan pada asumsi bahwa kaum miskin tidak dapat atau hampir tidak dapat menolong dirinya sendiri.  Karena itu harus diberi pengarahan dari luar khususnya dari pihak pemerintah, jika keadaan mereka ingin diperbaiki.  Tetapi, sedikit sekali usaha yang ditunjukkan untuk memperbaiki kehidupan kaum miskin didasarkan pada pengetahuan dan sumber-sumber daya yang mereka miliki, terutama nilai-nilai budaya tradisional yang dianutnya secara turun temurun.  Sehingga akibatnya, lebih sering program-program pembangunan yang bertujuan memperbaiki taraf hidup kaum miskin, malah memperkuat ketergantungan kaum miskin terhadap pihak luar (pemerintah) dan dengan demikian mematikan swadaya kaum miskin itu sendiri.

Berdasarkan penelitian lapangan di beberapa di beberapa daerah di Indonesia, bukuini ingin menunjukkan bahwa asumsi di atas sangat keliru.  Anggapan bahwa kebudayaan dan pola hidup tradisional merupakan penghalang besar bagi pembangunan sosio-ekonomi harus ditolak.  Karena kebudayaan tradisional justru erat dengan dan menunjang proses pembangunan sosial , ekonomis, dan ekologis masyarakat.  Itu berarti kebudayaan tradisional merupakan akses yang harus diperhitungkan dalam perencanaan dan pelaksanaan pembangunan.  Karena itu pembangunan, terutama pembangunan pedesaan, harus didasarkan pada kebudayaan tradisional dan sumber daya masyarakat setempat.  Dan itu hanya mungkin kalau pihak perencana dan pelaksana pembangunan memberi kesempatan bagi terwujudnya partisipasi masyarakat setempat dalam perencanaan, pelaksanaan, dan evaluasi keseluruhan proses pembangunan yang diarahkan untuk meningkatkan taraf hidupnya.  Sudah waktunya partisipasi, demokratisasi, dan desentralisasi pembangunan diutamakan.

Pendekatan dan kajian yang kritis terhadap peranan kebudayaan tradisional dalam modernisasi yang disajikan dalam buku ini menggugah kita untuk berani menggugat upaya pembangunan yang sedang giat-giatnya dilaksanakan di negara kita ini, demi kesejahteraan rakyat kecil.  Dengan demikian buku ini penting dan berguna bagi perencanaan dan pelaksanaan pembangunan, bagi para ahli dan mahasiswa ilmu sosial, budayawan, wartawan, dan masyarakat umumnya.
Nelayan Dan Kemiskinan

Nelayan Dan Kemiskinan

Masalah kemiskinan pedesaan di negara yang sedang berkembang merupakan masalah yang cukup rumit meskipun kebanyakan negara-negara ini sudah berhasil melaksanakan pembangunan ekonomi.  Pada umumnya ekonomi dengan tekanan upaya-upaya mencapai tingkat pertumbuhan produksi dan pendapatan nasional yang setinggi-tingginya, telah banyak menunjukkan keberhasilan.  Namun pada saat yang bersamaan biasanya terjadi peningkatan dalam ketimpangan distribusi pendapatan antara kelompok kaya dan miskin yang berarti meningkatnya kemiskinan relatif.  Bertambahnya kemiskinan relatif inilah yang merupakan masalah menonjol yang memerlukan penanganan serius bila suatu negara ingin mewujudkan kemakmuran yang merata.

Bukuini merupakan hasil penelitian yang berusaha mengenali dan menganalisa masalah pembangunan manusia di dua desa nelayan di Kabupaten Jepara dengan menggunakan pendekatan yang di Indonesia termasuk relatif baru, yaitu pendekatan ekonomi antropologi dan trans-disiplin.