Mimicry of the Legal: Translating de jure Land Formalization Processes Into de facto Local Action in Jambi province, Sumatra

Yvonne Kunz, Jonas Hein, Rina Mardiana, Heiko Faust


In Indonesia, as in many other countries of the global South, processes to formalize rights over land have been implemented with the intention to reduce deforestation, decrease poverty and increase tenure security. Literature on de jure processes of land formalization is widely available. There is a gap, however, on the discrepancy of de jure land titling procedures and de facto strategies to legitimize land claims. Led by the theoretical concepts of “law as process” and “politics of scale”, this study closes this gap by analyzing the impact of national tenure formalization processes on de facto local patterns of land titling. Using empirical material from 16 villages in Jambi province, we show that the outcomes of the state-led land reforms and land tenure formalization processes are imitated and translated into locally feasible actions. We refer to these translation processes as “mimicry of the legal”. The land formalization endeavors fostering mimicry of the legal allow for resource exploitation and rent-seeking behavior.


Indonesia; Land Reform; Land Tenure; Mimicry of the Legal; Politics of Scale

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14764/10.ASEAS-2016.1-8


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