Rubber plantation

Rubber plantation in Lembah Duri, North Bengkulu, Bengkulu (personal collection)

Elite-Peasant Relations in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia: Decentralization, Dispossession, and Countermovement (Doctoral Dissertation)

This study aims to investigate factors accounting for elite accommodation of peasant interests at subnational level and variations in types of such accommodation across regions in post-authoritarian Indonesia. Utilizing ethnographic, interview, and archival materials from 24 months of fieldwork in four different sites – Serang (Banten), Bulukumba (South Sulawesi), North Bengkulu (Bengkulu), and Jakarta – I tentatively argue that 1) the presence of organized peasants and their allies and 2) the convergence of interests between local elites and peasants account for such accommodation.

Furthermore, variations in patterns of elite accommodation can be explained by 1) the strength of local civil society, 2) types of organizations formed and strategies pursued by local peasants and their allies, and 3) issue salience. Based on my ongoing fieldwork, I also identify two models of elite accommodation: 1) civil society corporatism, in which civil society organizations serve as the intermediaries between elites and peasants in a corporatist framework and 2) incorporation through mobilization, wherein peasant social movements choose a more confrontational strategy such as protests and land occupation to increase their bargaining power vis-à-vis elites.

This is in contrast with the situation at the national level, where the agrarian movement is pretty fragmented. This renders the movement unable to effectively challenge the oligarchic interests in the agricultural sector.

This dissertation research is financially supported by NIU Political Science Department’s Russell Smith Scholarship, Transparency for Development Predoctoral Fellowship from Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School and Results from Development Institute, The University of Sydney’s Southeast Asia Centre Visiting PhD Fund, and ENITAS Scholarship from The Institute of Thai Studies at Chulalongkorn University. This research also benefits from the institutional support of LP3ES’s Visiting Research Fellowship and financial support from the Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowship at NIU.

Published Works
My works on social movements, political Islam, people’s history, Indonesian politics, and theoretical reflection on Southeast Asian Studies have been published in venues such as Indonesia, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, Asian Labour Review, Jurnal Karbon, and Jurnal Kajian Wilayah. For a complete list of my work please click over to my page.

Working Papers and Ongoing Projects
“Local Elite Turnover in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia” (with Michael Buehler)
Low-quality Local Democracy in Indonesia and Mexico”
“Indonesia’s Agricultural History from Early to Late Colonial Era: Toward a People’s History?”
“A Tale of Two Districts: Patterns of Elite-Peasant Relations in Serang and Bulukumba”
“Village Intermediaries in Public Service Provision in Serang District”
“Rokib: a Portrait of a Rural Modernizer”
“Land Rights Movement in Contemporary Indonesia”


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