A conflict over land granted to a eucalyptus pulp manufacturer by the Indonesian state threatens not only the livelihoods of the indigenous people who claim the forests, but also their ability to perform traditional rituals passed down across generations.
Author Archives: Tonggo Simangunsong
Tonggo Simangunsong is an Indonesian journalist based in Medan, North Sumatra. His work has appeared in New Naratif, the South China Morning Post, VICE, ChinaDialogue, JakartaPost and more, covering environmental issues, culture and identity.
Indigenous Women Resist Indonesia’s Sweet Tooth Evictions
From colonial tobacco plantations to state sugar interests, indigenous farmers in one North Sumatran village have faced recurring evictions and displacement. Indonesia’s drive to become sugar self-sufficient has left them homeless again.
An Absence of Adat
In North Sumatra, Indonesia, Batak culture has strong, distinct rituals around death known as adat. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, these customs have had to be adapted. Is Batak adat in the midst of a cultural sea change?
A Porcine Paradigm
Halal tourism has become big business in Southeast Asia in recent years. But in communities that have traditionally celebrated pigs, this initiative by local governments has caused concern and contention.