- Gregory Acciaioli (University of Western Australia) email
- Riwanto Tirtosudarmo (Indonesian Institute of Science) email
With nationalist ideals of cultural citizenship in flux across the region, this panel focuses on the dialectical relationships between the state and marginal groups in Southeast Asian nation-states, across different political regimes, before and after independence.
Postcolonial states in Southeast Asia continue to be sites where nationalist ideals remain in flux. States in the region continue to juggle ideas of national belonging ranging from communalism, both traditional and intentional, to the hyperindividualism of contemporary neoliberalism. Notions underpinning 'cultural citizenship' (Rosaldo 2003) embrace models of modernity, while also privileging particular religious affiliations and expressions as definitive of civic centrality (e.g. Buddhism in Myanmar and Thailand, Islam in Malaysia and Indonesia, Catholicism in the Philippines, etc.). Such ideological mixtures render state-citizen relations unresolved, constantly shifting.
This continual shifting poses particular problems for marginal groups, such as Indigenous peoples (e.g. 'adat' communities in Indonesia, 'national ethnic races' in Myanmar, etc.), religious minorities, communitarian movements, and other geographically and economically peripheral groups. While some state policies continue to marginalise such groups, other recent initiatives - policies to 'develop from the margins', recognition of forest rights, and others - have also sought to bring such groups more focally into the state fold. Against these past and contemporary historical backdrops, this panel aims to provoke discussion on the dialectical relationships between the state and the existence of marginal groups in Southeast Asian states, across different political regimes, before and after independence. This panel welcomes papers using a wide variety of conceptualisations of the shifting relations of the state and marginal groups with a view to delineating the importance of the operation of power in effecting and dispersing marginalisation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Seeking the state: appropriating bureaucratic symbolism and wealth in the margins of Southeast Asia
We seek to identify and expand upon a literature which we see as emerging from the space opened between Foucault and Scott's work, to demonstrate the many creative and diverse ways that peripheral societies seek out states.
Anthropological research on Southeast Asian states has contributed to understanding how local communities engage with states in their everyday lives. Two approaches drawing out the complexities of state-society entanglement stand out. First is Foucault's idea that states possess the art-of-government. Through techniques such as mapping, census data, biometrics and so on, states are believed to achieve new levels of control over people, who are thus rendered as individual citizens. Second is Scott's idea that societies possess the art-of-not-being-governed. People, particularly in peripheral areas, seek to escape state control, for instance by sheltering in the hills and forests of Asia. In this paper, we seek to identify and expand upon a literature which we see as emerging from the space opened between Foucault and Scott's work, to demonstrate the many creative and diverse ways that peripheral societies seek out states. In doing this we present a synthesis of diverse forms of entanglement to provide new insights into understanding relations between societies and states.
Post-neoliberal social assistance and the outcast poor in Indonesia
This paper details how Indonesia's new cash transfer program creates an outcast poor person unable to fit its objective parameters of eligibility. Accounting for around half of all poor people in Surabaya, such a person is now without economic citizenship rights in the city.
This study offers the first anthropological account of Indonesia's new Hopeful Families conditional cash transfer program, arguably the biggest program of its kind in the world, and an example of what anthropologists now consider a model of development that is the opposite of neoliberalism. Through those I term its user, non-user and provider poor people, I highlight how cash transfers create a hierarchy of economic citizenship among the poor due to what Georg Simmel considered the state's control of poverty through its objectively visible and quantifiable aspects. I focus on those who are anterior to the visible: those who in this study make up half of all poor people in the large Indonesian city of Surabaya, and who are now surplus to the needs of its economy and struggling to reclaim their old right to its streets and neighbourhoods.
Participatory governance and poverty reduction in Indonesia: the preliminary findings from the village law implementation
This paper discusses the impact of the village law implementation on improving the condition of the poor and marginalized people in Indonesia. The research on which this paper is based has been conducted in IndonesiaI and is mostly qualitative with a limited number of descriptive statistics.
This paper discusses the impact of the village law implementation on improving the condition of the poor and marginalized people in Indonesia. The very idea of participatory governance and development is, among others, to improve the sensitivity of development initiatives to the voices and needs of the people in general, and the marginalized one in particular. By embracing them into the development system, theoretically, their voices will be heard, and their needs will be fulfilled.
Is that really the case in the ground? Evidence from a longitudinal study on the implementation of village law shows that the policy does not specifically target the poverty. Consequently, the impact is not significant as well. The problem with the village law is not only at the implementation level it lacks refinement, the design itself has some limitations in reaching the marginalized people. Both of policy design and its impact, will be the main discussion in this paper.
The research on which this paper is based has mainly been conducted in Indonesia, focussing on the implementation of the newly issued law on village governance and development. The study is longitudinal, initiated in the mid of 2015 and expected to finish at the mid of 2019. It is mostly qualitative with a limited number of descriptive statistics.
Marginalization by law: Adat and traditional communities and their laws in Indonesia
Marginalization results in detriments and social injustice.Even formal laws are implemented by neglecting the fair principles. Taking cases of marginalization adat and traditional communities in Indonesia, this paper will focus to elaborate marginalization by law through socio-legal perspective
In plural societies, an uneven situation is possible to occur when a diverse social and political society are unequally treated. Examples show how customary communities and their laws often placed in an unfavorable position toward the state or more dominant power. Such 'marginalization' unavoidably result huge detriments for the communities and this becomes a continuously social injustice. Unfortunately, even certain formal laws are implemented by neglecting the fair principles of basic human rights or citizenship.
Taking cases of marginalization adat and traditional communities and their law in Indonesia, this paper will focus to elaborate 'marginalization by law' through socio-legal perspective. First part will expose empirical cases using a framework from Irianto's explanation on the disadvantage impacts of adat (and traditional) communities' marginalization: legal identity, civil rights, and living space. Here, besides updated examples, the discussion will also talk on how Indonesia's law has contributed to the communities' situation. In the second part, the focus will be directed to discuss on how new developments in legal aspects, such as local government regulations, village law or other related policies will contribute to promoting better treatments for communities. However, objectively, important questions can still be raised here, including whether those new developments will be a proper panacea and able to provide a strong legal certainty in the future or are these just sufficient within this recent period and in partial aspects?
Keywords: marginalization, adat and traditional communities, law, legal and society
Irianto, Sulistyowati. 2016. "Masyarakat Adat dan Ke-Indonesiaan"in Kompas, June 10th 2016
The shifting state and LGBT exclusion: the case of Indonesia
What has caused the unprecedented wave of violence towards LGBT in Indonesia and why has the state been not only reluctant to suppress this violence but allowed politicians and religious leaders to espouse homophobia at local, regional and national levels? This paper explores these questions.
If successful societies are those that embrace diversity, promote inclusion and uphold equality what then can we say of Indonesia with its current wave of anti-LGBT violence? If were are to find a single event that has incited this violence we might settle upon a Minister's affront at LGBT becoming visible in solidarity. Having been advised of a university-based LGBT support group, Indonesia's Research, Technology and Higher Education Minister Muhammad Nasir publicly stated in January 2016 that universities must uphold standards of 'values and morals' and therefore should not support organisations that promote LGBT activities. Nasir's supposed evidence of this support was the existence of the Support Group and Resource Center on Sexuality Studies (SGRC) based at the University of Indonesia - it missed Nasir's attention that SGRC was not an LGBT organisation and that the LGBT Peer Support group under its auspice was not trying to convert people but provide information to students on such things as sexual health. The ensuing backlash saw unprecedented media attention given to LGBT and a wave of pro- and anti- LGBT demonstrations across the country that have continued to grow. This paper explores what is behind the intensity of the unrest and analyses the current situation for LGBT in Indonesia with a view of relating this to notions of citizenship.
Kadazan and the state: reimagining the Sabahan ethnic landscape
This paper focuses on the identity ambassador role of the Kadazans in Sabah, Malaysian-Borneo, to realign the State's position on the topic of hybrid identities and promote ethnic stasis in the diverse and complex Sabahan landscape.
In this paper, I address the shifting categories of identity and ethnic belonging in the Sabahan landscape using the Kadazan as a case study. The Kadazans of Sabah, Malaysian, are atypical to Muslim Natives (Bumiputera) given their indigenous, Christian and inter-ethnic identities. Feeling vastly superior in their cultural hybridity, the Kadazans are used to navigating the terrains of their ambiguous identities to actively (re)construct and project them anew. They seek to inform the State therefore in how to reimagine the ethnic landscape outside of the perceived rigidity and bias in the Malay-Muslim frame.
However, the expert position of the Kadazan only serves to highlight their own beleaguered position of fighting the State from the margins. Politically weakened and struggling to share resources with other locals and migrants, Kadazans was once at the centre of Sabahan society. By championing ethnic recognition for hybrid identities and rejecting Malay homogeneity, Kadazans refresh their image and gain support to create a corridor of power from which they can influence the current identity discourse in Sabah. In all these, the 'Sabahan' identity appears from the background to become the logical solution in which all can utilise to obtain equilibrium within their identity complexes.
This paper is based on the author's thesis called 'The Kadazan paradox', where she explores why the Kadazans no longer truly belong as 'Kadazan'. Her thesis considers the relationship between ethnohistory, local identities and Native categories and focus on how 'place' and 'identities' (Tapp 2010) reify a certain sense of belonging.
Hope and the Christian Fetish: The political meaning of whiteness in Malaysia
I suggest that focus on the interpretation of whiteness as the embodiment of "Christian modernity" in the representational economy of postcolonial Malaysia offers an approach to understanding hope. Following Bashkow (2006) and Keane (2007), I argue that while contemporary interactions with white people are ultimately morally ambivalent, the semiotic construction of “Orang Putih” indexes political possibility for Christian Dusun groups.
In this presentation, I discuss how Christian Dusun, an ethnic group in northern Borneo, maintain hope in the face of widespread distrust toward the pro-Islamic policies of local Malay party rule and national political corruption and scandal. Because non-Islamic government in Malaysia is historically linked to British colonialism, many Christian Dusun I encountered during fieldwork would romantically conjure representations of “Orang Putih” (white person) as a productive locus of knowledge and power. This picture is partly formed by the perception of the “Orang Putih” as an essentially Christian figure, who fought the odds to bring people the word of God back “before there was any religion in Borneo.” Drawing on my 18 months of research in the state of Sabah, I suggest that focus on the interpretation of whiteness as a particular expression of "Christian modernity" in the representational economy of postcolonial Malaysia offers an approach to understanding hope, what Miyazaki (2004:4) identifies as “a method that unites different forms of knowing.” Following Bashkow (2006) and Keane (2007), I argue that while contemporary interactions with white people are ultimately morally ambivalent, the semiotic construction of “Orang Putih” indexes political possibility for Christian Dusun groups.
Marginality in state-centric lifeworlds: cases from the Bornean borderlands
I explore the place of marginality in a massively state-centric world, arguing that contemporary idioms of marginality converge around the (territorial) imaginary of the modern state. Ethnographic examples are drawn from the borderlands of north-eastern Borneo.
A substantial anthropological literature treats margins as dynamic and unstable sites in which the imaginary of the modern state is manipulated and evaded. Another body of literature has explored the proliferation of state-centricity by treating the state as the 'great enframer' of contemporary lifeworlds. Bringing the latter approach to bear on the former, I argue that contemporary idioms of marginality increasingly converge around the imaginary of the modern state. Where studies of Southeast Asia have historically documented a variety of marginalities, most famously in upland-lowland relations, these seem to be shifting toward a common form grounded in a territorialised state imaginary. Drawing on fieldwork among the Tidung and adjacent peoples of the north-eastern Bornean borderlands, I explore how marginality is conceptualised in a borderland idiom through precisely the same discourse that is relayed by central government officials and embedded in policies of 'developing from the margins.' Far from manipulating or evading 'the state,' these peoples demonstrate a deep affinity with it through a performance of marginality which corresponds to a hegemonic state imaginary. This state-centric conceptualisation of marginality informs similarly state-centric political projects, such as demanding the expansion of Indonesian bureaucracy in the form of regional autonomy. Finally, I examine the state-centricity even of more radical contemporary discourses of marginality. Specifically, I consider a millenarian Tidung historiography, according to which their history has been stolen and hidden by several states, the return of which would result in the establishment of a just Bornean state.
Marginality in a transnational maritime space: exclusion, irregularity, and invisibility of Bajau Laut in archipelagic Southeast Asia
This paper examines shifting state perspectives upon the Bajau Laut as a marginal population in a transnational maritime space subjected to contemporary nationalism, border securitisation, conservation initiatives and other processes historically reproducing and exacerbating their marginality.
This paper explores impacts of national and regional policies upon the Bajau Laut, a marginal group occupying the maritime border region shared by Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. It considers how their position at the marine interstices of these nation-states has led to shifting state perspectives upon where they are supposed to belong, sometimes resulting in their statelessness. How the Bajau Laut have come to be situated as marginal and irregular is examined historically with regard to such processes as nomadic adaptations to the political and economic demands of precolonial states, ethnogenesis, colonial sedentarisation, accommodation to postcolonial state visions for economic development and commercial interaction in regional and global commodity chains. Notions of indigeneity, cultural citizenship (Rosaldo 2003) and paranoid nationalism (Hage 2003) are used to conceptualise how the marginal status of the Bajau Laut is reproduced and exacerbated across these nation-states, as contemporary nationalism, border securitisation and transnational conservation initiatives have rendered the Bajau Laut both prominent as a target of governmental action and invisible in terms of provision of social services and implementation of conservation initiatives. Some comparisons are drawn with the positions of other mobile marine populations in the Southeast Asian region, including the Moken and Orang Laut.
Hage, G. (2003). Against Paranoid Nationalism: Searching for Hope in a Shrinking Society. Annandale: Pluto Press Australia.
Rosaldo, R. (2003). Introduction: The Borders of Belonging. In R. Rosaldo (ed.), Cultural Citizenship in Island Southeast Asia: Nation and Belonging in the Hinterlands. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Race, privilege and Chinese-ness in multiracial Singapore
This paper investigates the notion of Chineseness as a site of privilege that provides the norms and categories against which other cultures are 'measured'; and the 'unearned advantage' the Chinese have over ethnic minorities like the Malays, Indians and Eurasians in Singapore.
Ethnic Chinese constitute a majority of the population and are well represented at all levels of Singaporean society, politically and economically. Nonetheless, the ideologies of meritocracy and racial harmony have long been held up by the Singapore state as constitutive principles that bind its multi-ethnic population. Singaporean citizens are told that regardless of their race, language or religion they can succeed in life based on their ability and talent. This non-discriminatory approach guarantees social mobility and equal opportunity for all. Similarly, race relations in Singapore have been filtered through the lens of tolerance, living harmoniously and celebration of diversity rather than any deep engagement with cultural difference. Racial tensions and experiences of racism are often unacknowledged. In practice, meritocracy and racial harmony disavows recognition of discrimination and disadvantage faced by ethnic minorities. This paper investigates the notion of Chineseness as a site of privilege that provides the norms and categories against which other cultures are 'measured'; and the 'unearned advantage' the Chinese have over ethnic minorities like the Malays, Indians and Eurasians in Singapore.
At the margins: Muslim belonging and identity in contemporary Myanmar
This paper explores the politics of identity and belonging for young Muslim people in Myanmar as they 'come of age'. I examine the way anti-Muslim sentiment has altered people's understandings of themselves, tempered by a view of the self, propagated by the state, as 'other'.
Based on sixteen months of fieldwork in south-eastern Karen state, this paper examines the politics of identity, marginality and belonging for Muslim people in contemporary Myanmar. Much of the scholarship examining anti-Muslim sentiment in Myanmar has been couched through the lens of Burmese Buddhist nationalism and state-organised violence (Crouch 2016). However, little attention has been paid to how questions of exclusion and marginality are understood and experienced at the more everyday and mundane level.
Using two case studies, I look at processes of acculturation for young Muslim people as they 'come of age' and how this relates to issues of socialisation and categorisation, age and gender norms, ethnicity and identity in what is an era of rapid socio-economic and political change. In particular, I examine the way anti-Muslim sentiment has altered people's understandings of themselves and their identity, tempered by a view of the self as 'other'. In doing so, this paper points to the multiple ways the state uses 'cultural citizenship' (Rosaldo 2003) to further marginalise and foster fear and resentment against Muslim communities in Myanmar.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.