Territories of Fire: Indigenous Communities, Land, and Anarchy among a Highland People in Mindoro


  • Christian Rosales University of the Philippines Los Baños


anarchy, fire, political ecology, swidden, Tau-Buhid, territory


The article challenges the assumption that land tenure is contingent on acquiring a land title. It argues that for Indigenous peoples a land may be delineated, occupied, utilised, and collectively owned through the concept of territoriality. Through a combined ‘anarchist anthropology’ and political ecology the article provides ethnographic evidence from among the Tau-Buhid as a case in point to show that through their everyday relationship with fire and ignition practices territoriality is reinforced among their communities as a basis of land tenure. Thus, despite efforts of the Philippine state to phase out all kinds of fire practice on theirland, a portion of which is a declared protected area, ignition continues as a way of orchestrating territorial autonomy against state sovereignty in the highlands. Ultimately, through such practices Indigenous lands have metaphorically transformed into ‘territories of fire’, a frontier where the state is irrelevant to Indigenouslife and where state-control apparatuses are inoperable. 


Download data is not yet available.






Articles (special issue)