Sub-theme 6. The drama of the grabbed commons
Authoritarian development and commons grabbing in Indonesia
With its policy of accelerated development, the Indonesian government has made its economic growth heavily dependent upon its expanding capitalist frontier in remote parts of the archipelago. Based on colonial era laws and most recently on a legal package termed “omnibus laws”, traditional land, forest and water commons can be appropriated by the state and transferred as concessions to logging, plantation, mining and tourism companies, thus depriving previous owners by their own traditional law of control over these resources. In this way, throughout Indonesia, traditional farming communities but also hunter/gatherer and fishing groups have been directly expropriated or put under pressure to give up all or part of their resources.
The transformation of these commons under control of local populations into private property under joint control by the state and private concessionaries, implies more than mere dispossession, but also a thorough social transformation. The communities owning land and forest as commons have traditionally been constituted in their social structure through the regulations of access to these resources. The process of commons grabbing therefore undermines the social fabric that had been built around joint control of land, forest, and any other resource considered as common property. At the same time, new social relations are constructed around the private ownership of logging, land, mining and fishing concessions. These social relations are those of the authoritarian state and of hierarchically organized companies. Local people deprived of their commons have the options either to integrate as direct dependants in the social structure that now dominates their former resources – for instance as wage laborers in logging firms, on plantations, or in mines –, or to carve out an arrangement with the state or a company that allows them to maintain collective or private control over part of their resources, and thus become indirect dependants of the hegemonial capitalist relations – i.e. as recognized indigenous group allowed to forage in forest concessions or in national parks, or as outgrowers forced to produce cash crops for a plantation company on their individually owned land.
We invite contributors to provide case studies reflecting on the local social, legal and political impact of Indonesia’s accelerated development policy, and local and national responses to it.
Panel 6.13. A
1. Contentious Forestland: Large-scale vs Small-scale Gold Mining and the Questions of Forest Sustainability
Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Japan
Contentious determination of the forest and forestland was not only taken place between the forest authority and the local people, but it is also about determination of its functions: ecological, economic, and social. Mining operations which mostly operated in forestry areas reflected how this contestation occurred. Indeed, either the large-scale or small-scale mining operations would have consequences on forest and environmental destruction. However, the large-scale mining activities usually has facilitation to use forestlands for reasons of investment and economic growth. While, the small-scale mining activities, along with its illegality aspects, considered merely as the activity that will harm ecological function of the forest. This article, based on a field research in Gorontalo of Indonesia, where the two opposite mining activities operated within forestry area and the National Park, shows that small-scale operation has several overplus compares with the large one. This eminency can be seen from two aspects, which are its contribution to environment destruction and local economy. A discriminative policy on mining operation has turned a blind eye to these advantages and push it far from the government attention on environmental sustainability.
Keywords: large- and small-scale mining operations, forest and environmental destruction, economic contribution of the mining
2. Untangle the Power Relations in the Forest Grabbing in Jambi, Indonesia
History Department Universitas Indonesia, Indonesia
Scholarly work on agrarian and indigenous movements in Indonesia mainly discuss resistance to state development and investment. The discussion focuses on specific issues, such as exclusion, recognition of rights for Indigenous communities, and land reform campaigns national and international (Afiff et al., 2005; Lucas and Warren, 2007; Bachriadi, 2010; Rahman, 2012; Hein, 2020). However, these scholarly works rarely include research and discussion on the underlying modus operandi behind the movements, which is also essential to understand the resistance (Hall, 2015). Hall, Li, and Hirsch (2015) disclose the significant role of palm oil as a commodity, which leads to land grabbing in the practice of oil palm plantation expansion in Indonesia. This research aims, therefore, to discuss the incorporation of local peasant-indigenous communities into oil palm plantations (McCarthy, 2010). By conducting ethnographic research in Jambi, Indonesia, this research shows the complexity of the power relation between the peasant-indigenous community actors in maintaining the occupied forests.
3. The Pretext of a Food and Energy Crises and the Land Grabbing Phenomenon in Kurik District, Papua Province
Agrarian Resource Center, Indonesia
The discourse of land grabbing is not mere directly related to capital investment enter to particular region, but also its impact to development of the discourse. Pretext of food supply crises have made various investment schemes in order to meet the problem, as Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) scheme, Papua province. Therefore, the peatland that should be conserved become also target to fulfil food and energy demands. Besides, the use of peatlands traditionally that has been a conservation model applied by local people, was denied and changed for deal with the objective of thescheme. It has shown characteristic of authoritarianism of the regime, the government of Indonesia Republic led to landgrabbig phenomenon, which are land appropriation and local tradition exclusion as well as local conflict, particularly within transmigrant that has been third generation and Papuan local people in Kaliki village.
This study will review the dynamics of the interests of various parties, namely native local people, migrants, and the national government in degraded peatlands in the Kurik subdistrict. Both Kaliki people and migrants are more concerned with protecting their daily economic interests than they are with restoring the peat ecosystem. This is because the ‘80s’ transmigration program had transformed the landscape, which brought ricefield technology to peatlands in this subdistrict. This development inspired local residents to convert peatlands into ricefields for subsistence. In the end, this study will look into how the national policy will lead to land grabbing under the pretext of food and energy crises discourse.
4. No title
Universitas Cendrawasih, Indonesia
The current paper presents Papuan identities as a local community issue. The identities cannot be simplified as homogenous with a clear cultural boundary. Instead, they are situational and can be found across West Papua, being negotiated by global capitalism that has penetrated the communities. The capital and political power of the modern economy have resulted in a complicated transformation in the Papuan pluralistic society. Meanwhile, the exploitation of natural resources has created global vs. local power clashes and caused conflicts of interest among the traditional Papuans. They experience the hegemony of the global economy and a rapid social change that imposes a desire to be global citizens. In this situation, the state, which is expected to shield the community from external power forces, is found absent or even supporting the global economic powers. The undefended Papuans responded to the global capitalism expanding into their customary land by forming a new paradigm. They adapt to the continual changing in their environment. They have accepted that the coming of foreign capital is unavoidable. Thus, they try to suit themselves to follow the speed of the socio-cultural changes around them. In Sumuri, a district in West Papua, people continuously negotiate their cultural identities, guided by cultural values but influenced by the hegemony of the global economy, resulting in the creative construction of cultural discourses.
Panel 6.13. B
1. Spatial Reorganization on the Mainland Of Flores: A Case Study of the Geothermal Power Plant Development in Sano Nggoang, East Nusa Tenggara
Agrarian Resource Center, Indonesia
Land use for tourism is acknowledged to be one of the causes contributing to land grabs in many regions. However, few studies explain how the tourist industry influences the development of other economic sectors. The idea of “10 New Balis”, promoted by the government, makes it possible to explore the tourism industry in Flores that has attracted large private investment. In particular, the geothermal power sector that is supported by the World Bank under the ‘green pretext’ and the legitimacy of the church. This research aims to explore how the tourism industry on Komodo Island became the prima causa of spatial reorganization on the Flores mainland in order to activate new capital circuits in under-exploited geographies involving rural areas. This will be done by taking a case study in the District of Sano Nggoang where a geothermal power plant will be built on communal land (the commons). Furthermore, it will details how the traditional leaders are actively involved in resistance to reject development and exclusion as it threatens their fundamental function as rulers of the commons.
2. Military Capitalism: Economic Resources Accumulation by the Military through Land Grabbing (a Case Study from Urutsewu)
Agrarian Resource Centre, Indonesia
Land dispossession conduct by the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian Military)/Angkatan Darat (Army) or TNI/AD, in Urutsewu cannot be seen as a case of mere land grabbing. The army as a state institution with its power and resources should not be separated from the process of capital accumulation. At this point, Harvey (2003) explains the link between the military and capital accumulation as a means of legitimizing accumulation. Nowadays, the dispossession process of capital accumulation uses state apparatus including the military as a tool or instrument of the capitalist class in carrying out accumulation. In contrast to Accumulation by Dispossession (AbD), this study shows that the military can not only be seen as a legitimizing tool for capital accumulation but also as an actor in the process itself. Capital accumulation by the military discussed in this study is called Military Capitalism. This study uses two tools of analyses framework, which are Accumulation by Dispossession and Khaki Capital to describe a case in Urutsewu, Central Java, Indonesia. The case explains how the military has accumulated capital through their forces to grab the land. From the case study in Urutsewu, it can be concluded that apart from being a state institution, the military can be identified as the capitalist class; the change of the military as a capitalist class, carried out by formal and informal ways; and those are supported by political equilibrium that influences the accumulation process of economic resources gained by the military.
3. The legal basis for expropriating the commons in Indonesia. Hak ulayat after the omnibus laws.
University of Bern, Switzerland
As documented in the colonial era adatrechtbundels – collections of customary law all over the Netherlands Indies –, in traditional Indonesian farming societies common property regimes regulated the access to forests and not permanently cultivated land. Despite their fundamental importance for these societies common property regimes have never gained the same degree of protection by the state as privately held titled land. In fact, the legal status of hak ulayat (common property), has been weakened in successive legal reforms, facilitating expropriation of village lands and forests in the national interest. Arguably, the existence of hak ulayat in Agrarian Law has historically made the titling of land seem unnecessary to small farmers, so that now they are with hardly any protection against expropriation. The present paper will discuss the impact of the most recent such reform, the passing of the omnibus laws in 2020. Has hak ulayat turned from a legal asset – the albeit weak protection of traditional landrights – into an outright liability – as a land category that can be easily expropriated by the state? What legal and political means do villagers still have, after the passing of the omnibus laws, to resist expropriation of untitled land and forest?