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Negotiation, Mediation and Participation: citizenship practices in Indonesia

0900–1030, Saturday 16 April 2016, L6

Gerry van Klinken
Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Gerry van Klinken
Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Gerry van Klinken
Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies


Citizenship practices in Asia frequently diverge radically from the norms and institutions that have been universalized since the invention of ‘modern’ citizenship in Europe in the last 200 years. Calling them ‘diverse citizenship’, James Tully recently wrote of these practices: ‘Citizenship is not a status given by the institutions of the modern constitutional state and international law, but negotiated practices in which one becomes a citizen through participation.’ Others have characterized these diverse practices as ‘insurgent citizenship’ (James Holston), ‘subaltern citizenship’ (Gyanendra Pandey), ‘being political’ (Isin F Engin), or ‘counter-hegemonic globalization’ (Peter Evans). All are contributing to a growing interest in re-democratizing the political history of the global South. The aim is to return agency to masses of ordinary citizens after the elitist ‘state qua state’ approaches of the 1980s. This panel examines several examples of diverse citizenship practices in Indonesia. It asks: How widely do they diverge from ‘modern’ institutional citizenship associated with the history of modernization and colonization? How emancipatory (cooperative, democratic, non-coercive) are they? How transformative are they?


Paper 1: Brokers, clientelism and authority: the politics of access to healthcare in Indonesia

Ms Retna Hanani
Dept of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

Over the last three years Indonesia has engaged in a large expansion of subsidised health care. Using fieldwork in both an urban and a rural locality, this paper discusses the manner in which poorer citizens gain access to these health care programs. While on paper these programs represent an expansion of citizen rights, particularly poorer citizens do not experience or perceive them as such. Rather, due to the specific nature of local community governance in Indonesia, community leaders and local politicians succeed in transforming the access to health care subsidies into something akin to a personal gift. The new health care programs have created a need for various types of brokers, who help poorer citizens to benefit from these programs in exchange for money or political support. This paper discusses the functioning of these brokers and the impact of their increased prominence on local patterns of authority. Discussing the functioning of brokers in an urban and a rural locality, we argue that the expansion of social rights in Indonesia has, ironically, further cemented the clientelistic ties between poorer citizens and local elites.


Paper 2: Social movements and citizen struggles for customary land rights

Willem van der Muur
Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden University

Indonesian law recognizes customary land rights in a very restricted way. Yet in reality most land particularly outside Java has customary owners who are well-known within their community. In late colonial times, Dutch legal scholars gave some legitimacy to them by studying and promoting ‘adat rights’. The gap between formal law and the sense of right has for decades led to contentious politics over land rights. These pit local communities against plantation companies and their government and security agency allies. This paper analyses the history of one such long contentious episode in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi. Deploying the techniques of contentious politics to identify collective actors and their strategies, it asks how these transgressive citizen practices changed after the authoritarian New Order. It finds that post-1998 democracy talk strengthened the framing discourse of adat land rights. The global indigenous rights movement became an ally. However, the decentralized local government has not been more inclined to concede claims. Instead, it has given in to some land claims and even legitimized them, only to reject them at a later point. By doing so, it seeks both to preserve an image of flexible authority, and to maintain a bargaining position between the various claimant groups and the plantation company. As a result, citizenship practices appear to be stuck in a permanent theatre of negotiation without resolution.


Paper 3: Activists and trolls: online citizenship practices

Zamzam Fauzanafi
Leiden University

Most citizenship studies in the global North envisage it as ‘a status bestowed on those who are full members of community’ (Lazar). In the context of a post-colonial, weakly institutionalized state such as Indonesia, however, we cannot understand citizenship as purely a legal status in which the individual possesses a bundle of rights and responsibilities vis a vis the state. This paper interrogates the notion of citizenship as a set of practices or acts that constitute encounters between the state and its citizens. The paper follows the emergence of the ‘online citizen’ engaged in facebook protests against corruption in Banten, Indonesia. The internet destabilizes and to some extent pluralizes the normal face-to-face modes of political communication. In this case it has facilitated the emergence of a counter-hegemonic, somewhat anarchical form of sociality that can be characterized as ‘carnival citizenship’. Its participants engage with a corrupt local dynasty mainly by humorous and irreverent comment on local newspaper reporting about the dynasty. Members of the dynasty attempt to react to this discourse with ‘trolling’ practices. Digital citizenship practices such as these create some solidarity but have not proven to be effective in bringing about political change.



Paper 4: Citizenship, Religion and Class in Indonesia

Chris Chaplin
Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Indonesian democratization discourse since 1998 has been marked by contrary religious motifs of inclusion as well as exclusion. National intellectual elites continue to promote inclusive and progressive religious values; national political parties with an exclusivizing religious agenda have suffered declining shares of the vote (after an initial surge). Yet at the provincial and district level, conservative syariah regulations have proliferated, as have sometimes transgressive episodes of intolerance towards religious minorities. Survey results suggest these differences have a basis in political economy. Upper middle class professionals in big cities who run the national organizations are more cosmopolitan, more trustful towards democratic institutions, and less interested in religious dogmatism than average. Lower middle class and lower class people in provincial towns, by contrast, are more interested in religion as an exclusive moral guide for the community. Their rough-and-tumble populist politics represent the ‘exclusion of the excluders by the excluded’ (Castells). This paper presents preliminary results from a project to investigate how processes of religious and economic change are related, and thus how the languages of religious inclusion or exclusion that citizens deploy express class tensions. It focuses on religious persuasive practices (tafsir) in provincial towns and how these differ from such practices among Jakarta professionals.