Indigenous Peoples, the State, and the Economy in Indonesia

National Debates and Local Processes of Recognition


  • Timo Duile Bonn University, Germany



Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), Indigenous Peoples, Indonesia, Land Titles, South Sulawesi


Some communities in Indonesia’s margins have adopted indigenous identities to overcome stigmatization as 'backward'. Following recent government efforts to develop Indonesia’s peripheral areas, these communities can also identify as entrepreneurs because they can now apply for land titles – a change that government officials hope will boost local economies. The question of who is 'indigenous' has thus become an area of political controversy that the state must address. Through analysis of legal documents and political processes, this paper focuses on state-indigenous relations in Indonesia, with an emphasis on economic processes. Participatory observations and interviews have been carried out to gain better insights into ongoing recognition of indigenous communities. Preliminary findings suggest that indigenous activists are disappointed, as the government is not pushing forward crucial legislation, and recognition of land titles is slow. Therefore, activists have instead turned their attention to means of rec- ognition in the regencies. The example of Enrekang, South Sulawesi, provides insights into these developments and into the current relations between the state and indigenous peoples.

Author Biography

Timo Duile, Bonn University, Germany

Timo Duile has studied Political Science, Cultural Anthropology, and Philosophy, and obtained his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies. Currently, he is a post-doctoral researcher at Bonn University, Germany, and guest researcher at Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia. His research interests cover indigenous movements, concepts of nature and spirits, and (non-) religious identities, as well as politics and political satire in Indonesia.


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How to Cite

Duile, T. (2020). Indigenous Peoples, the State, and the Economy in Indonesia : National Debates and Local Processes of Recognition. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 13(1), 155–160.