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Organizer: Siddharth Chandra, University of Pittsburgh
Chair: Jeffrey Hadler, Cornell University
Discussant: Daniel S. Lev, University of Washington
The 20th century has seen the emergence among Indonesians of a variety of facets of collective identity. From gender to religion and from class to location, these facets have asserted themselves in the form of political protest movements. This panel examines the causes of and the forms which these political protest movements have taken. In order to advance fresh insights into political protest in 20th century Indonesia, the panel brings together the work of four young Indonesianists from across the social sciences (economics, government, history, and political science), whose methodologies are correspondingly diverse. The papers to be presented examine a variety of facets of identity in Indonesia and its expression in the form of political protest. Jeffrey Hadler characterizes the emergence and evolution of the womens movement in early 20th-century West Sumatra. Siddharth Chandra examines wage differentials between ethnic Chinese and ethnic Malays in early 20th-century Indonesia, and their relationship to the Sarekat Islam movement. Douglas Kammen emphasizes the allocation of control over resources between the village and the outside in electoral protest in rural post-Soeharto Indonesia. Michael Malley investigates regional protest movements aimed at effecting a devolution of power from the center to the regions in a previously Soeharto-centric system. These cases capture the essence of a number of the conflicts that have shaped and will continue to shape politics in Indonesia. Daniel Lev, co-editor of "Making Indonesia," a recent collection of papers which discuss a number of related issues, will act as discussant.
Speaking and Moving: Political Women in Early 20th-Century Minangkabau
Jeffrey Hadler, Cornell University
The earthquake and uprisings of 1926 tore down a century of change in West Sumatra. After the uprisings there was greater police presence, and more political and journalistic repression. For the varied pergerakan (movements) the repaired roads would increasingly lead in one directionto the prison camp of Boven Digul and further towards the Indonesian nation. My paper examines the two preceding decades, focussing on the beginning of womens participation in politics through an analysis of the changing ideas of gerak (move), maju (progress), and alam (oikoumene).
By the 1920sat the level of the home and familya century of intimate contention was coming to a climax. Now, in the age of the pergerakan, the family was caught up and carried along in a series of potent political metaphors that moved it from the intimate sphere of the house (babilik kacie) to the public sphere of the newspaper and auditorium (babilik gadang). I examine the initiation of a womens public voice, through the newspapers "Poetri Hindia" and "Soenting Melajoe." Minangkabau is a matrifocal society, and women both control and are bound to their houses. As women wrote for and read these journals, they were participating in a metaphorical "womens movement." This participation was liberating, allowing Minangkabau women to physically move to new places, and leave their houses to join the protests of Padang, Padang Panjang, and Medan. The political leaders Rahmah el Yunusiyyah and Rasuna Said came from this environment, and these new "modern" women were eventually placed on a collision course with the proscriptive, "modernist" Islam of Muhammadiyah.
Inter-racial Wage Differentials and Sarekat Islam in the Early 20th-Century Dutch East Indies: Was There a Connection?
Siddharth Chandra, University of Pittsburgh
The relationship between inter-racial industrial wage differentials and the Sarekat Islam movement (for the 19121916 period) in the Dutch East Indies is examined using statistical data from primary sources of the Dutch East Indies. Because Sarekat Islam had its roots as an anti-Chinese movement in the Pasisir (north central coast) residencies of Java, the hypothesis that wage differentials were higher in this region than they were in other parts of the Indies is tested. By 1916, however, Sarekat Islam had spread to the Outer Islands, and had gained a strong footing in southern Sumatra. The nature of the movement, however, had changed from being primarily anti-Chinese to pro-Islam. Inter-racial wage differentials in South Sumatra are also examined in this light. It is shown that, in fact, inter-racial wage differentials in this region were much smaller than they were in Pasisir Java.
The data allow for controls for residency, industry, gender, and skill in estimating the effect of race on wage. A number of other interesting phenomena, including inter-industry wage differentials (controlling for skill, residency, race, and gender), inter-residency wage differentials (controlling for skill, industry, race, and gender), and inter-gender wage differentials (controlling for skill, industry, race, and residency) allow for a detailed characterization of the structure of wages in industry in the Dutch East Indies in the 1910s.
Electoral Protest and Control Over Land in Post-Soeharto Indonesia
Douglas Kammen, University of Canterbury
The fall of General Soeharto in 1998 unleashed a wave of protest demanding reform of the political system and the officials who staff it. But calls for reform are not new, least of all at the village level. Thanks to the New Orders policy of the floating mass, which banned the political parties from operating below the district level, the village was the only level at which (relatively) free elections were held. But during the 1990s, these village elections were the site of increasingly contentious protest. This protest is distributed neither evenly nor randomly, however. I will argue that this protest is related to control over land in two distinct, but related, ways. First, in lieu of a fixed salary from the state, village headmen are granted control over village-owned land (tanah bengkok). In over-populated areas and in areas with fertile, and hence profitable, land, village elections are hotly contested, often resulting in popular protest. Second, protest over village elections is most common in areas where "outside" forces (developers of real estate, industrial estates, golf courses, etc.) are impinging on local control over resources.
The fundamental issues involved are not the operation of democracy or questions of representation per se, but rather control over resources, especially land. The relationship between electoral protest and land provides a crucial window through which to view the current reforms and the prospects for democratization in post-Soeharto Indonesia.
Regional Political Protest and Reform in Post-Soeharto Indonesia
Michael Malley, University of Wisconsin
The protests that drove Soeharto from power in 1998 were not confined to Jakarta. Regional protest movements demanded the resignation of local governors, bupati, and mayors. Like their counterparts in Jakarta, regional reform movements called for an end to "corruption, collusion, and nepotism." Though their claims mirrored those made against Soeharto in Jakarta, the nature and intensity of regional protests varied widely.
This paper argues that such variation reflects the range of accommodations reached between the centralized New Order state and the various regions over which it asserted its rule. And it contends that such local accommodations are of interest not just as illustrations of the range of responses to national political structures, but as constitutive elements of national politics.
Regional protesters drew on local as well as national scripts in order to voice demands for reform. While lending support to widespread demands for changes in national political leadership, these groups placed regional concerns firmly on the national political agenda for the first time in four decades. In addition to calling for Soehartos resignation, they demanded that "native sons" be appointed to regional government posts, and that regional resources be used for local benefit rather than national. As a result, Indonesia today confronts the challenge not only of how to redistribute power from the state to society, but from Jakarta to the regions.