Policies and Polls: Elections and Land Conflicts in Paser, Indonesia


  • Laurens Bakker Leiden University




Adat-based Claims, Conflicts, Politics, Governance, Indonesia


This paper deals with the impact of direct bupati (district head) elections on local politics with regard to land confl icts in the district of Paser, Indonesia. I discuss the position and infl uence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in this process and their usage of adat-based land claims. The paper is concerned with the internal political context of government-NGO power relations as well as with the position and profi ling of these parties in Paserese society at large. The subject is approached through a discussion of two ‘land’ occupations (one in fact being a sea occupation) by groups claiming adat rights, and of the measures taken by the local government and NGOs alike. The new importance of regional politics and local responsibility of those in power in Paser are reviewed against the background of Indonesian political reform. I argue that results are likely to be determined by a specifi c local context and momentum rather than by nationwide developments.

Author Biography

Laurens Bakker, Leiden University

Laurens Bakker is currently based at Leiden University’s Van Vollenhoven Institute. He teaches Anthropology of Law at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, as well as Anthropology and Sociology of Development at the University of Amsterdam; research interests (among others): material culture, tourism, law and religion. Laurens Bakker has carried out fieldwork in Indonesia (Kalimantan, Mentawai, Nias) and in the Netherlands.




How to Cite

Bakker, L. (2009). Policies and Polls: Elections and Land Conflicts in Paser, Indonesia. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 2(1), 30–48. https://doi.org/10.14764/10.ASEAS-2.1-3



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