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The Everyday Political Economy of Southeast Asia II: Poverty, Inequality and Global Economic Flows

Dr. Lena Rethel
University of Warwick

Juanita Elias
University of Warwick


Panel Abstract

This panel addresses the question of how processes of integration in the global economy and marketisation generate emergent forms of resistance and acquiescence in Southeast Asia. The embedding of economic transformation in Southeast Asia’s everyday political economy should not ignore the persistence of poverty; gendered and racialised forms of inequality and oppression; and, the complex relationship between economic transformation and everyday life. Furthermore, these three dimensions are taking shape within the context of attempts to build markets or deepen processes of marketisation that serve to adversely incorporate some of society’s most marginalised groups ever further into the market economy. The panel will bring together scholars working on various aspects of Southeast Asia’s contemporary political economy from a range of disciplines such as economics, sociology and political science/international relations.


Paper 1: Survival Strategy of Smallholder Coffee Farmers in East Java – Indonesia

Sofia Giranda
University of Jember and University of Brawijaya

Indonesia is one of the top five coffee-producing countries in the world. Based on production numbers, Indonesia is the fourth biggest producer after Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam. Indonesian coffee plantations are dominated by smallholder coffee plantation managed by farmers. Most of the Indonesian coffee farmers have limited land to grow the coffee plants. The average plot is only 0.50 hectares. In managing the coffee farming, farmers still use traditional ways so that the quality of coffee is low. These conditions, i.e. the limitation of land and the low quality of coffee beans, mean their income from coffee farming is low and not enough for maintaining their life and family. To address their low and uncertain income, they develop coping strategies by participating in other activities that generate other sources of income. This study identifies the characteristics of smallholder coffee farmers and their livelihood strategies to increase their income for maintaining their life and family. Research was conducted at the Sidomulyo Village, Silo District, Jember Regency, East Java Province, Indonesia using descriptive, analytical and statistic methods. The results of the study show that coffee farmers in this area have limited land and low formal education, but they have long experience of coffee farming and high performance. Every farmer has some livelihood strategies for increasing their income. Besides farming coffee on their own land, they do other work in order to increase their income, i.e. mixing crops, food crops, cattle, trading coffee, and expanding coffee farming in the forest. The choice and the number of livelihood strategies conducted by the farmers are much influenced by the income from their coffee crops. The more limited land and the lower the income from the coffee farming, the more livelihood strategies are adopted by farmers to increase their income.


Paper 2: Counter-Cartography in Kalimantan

Lisa Tilley
University of Warwick

This paper begins by drawing out spatial theorising from selected sources of postcolonial thought. Mining the work of Fanon, Said and others, observations on colonial spatial ordering, bordering and claimant practices are outlined. Parallels are drawn with the investment practices of today in Indonesia in which the claimant power of the map retains its prominence in land seizure for large-scale investment projects. The role of mapping techniques in claiming land varies according to industry – mining corporations for example, in order to gain legal permits for excavation, utilise maps detailing the contents of the subsoil, documents which deny the human and natural complexity of the landscape above ground. However, local inhabitants are beginning to engage in what this paper terms ‘counter-cartography’, the production of maps detailing customary land rights, historic collective land ownership agreements, and ancient and varied forested areas. Counter-cartography is practised by networked indigenous movements, who, through collective “participatory mapping” practices, hope to contest the attempts of the state and corporations to claim land for large-scale development projects. The paper discusses counter-cartography in relation to research conducted in Kalimantan during the summer of 2013.