student profile: Mr Jazak Hidayat


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Representation of the Meratus Peoples within the Discourse of Indigenous Movement in Indonesia: A Postcolonial Analysis

Supervisors: Susan GOODWIN , Ruth PHILLIPS

Thesis abstract:

This research presents an analysis of strengthening discourse of indigeneity in Indonesia. Although government have played a significant role, NGOs have played a more recent and profound role in constructing and shaping discourses that articulate an identity for indigenous Indonesians that seeks to compete the state’s policies on the so-called ‘masyarakat adat’ (customary community). The Indonesian government holds that there are no real issues related to indigeneity in Indonesia as it claims that all Indonesians are basically indigenous and once applied term ‘masyarakat terasing’ (isolated community) to describe local communities living in remote areas and strictly maintain their local traditions. However, many NGO activists insist that the government should recognize the existence of indigenous peoples in Indonesia and protect their rights.

Beyond its ongoing rebuttal and recognition, this issue has raised a main question about how representation of the Meratus people has been made by NGOs within/through the discourse of indigenous movement in response to the state’s concept of non-indigeneity. This main concern led to other key questions: How do NGOs construct the discursive representation of indigeneity among the Meratus communities? Does the NGOs’ concept of masyarakat adat revive the past, reconstruct the existing or generate new identity for the subjected communities? How was the representation of the Meratus communities’ local identity and culture in a broader indigenous movement, as forms of adjustment and/or resistance to their surrounding dominant discourse, made? These questions were very much motivated by concern on potential issues of power relation in the process of representation, which is central to this study.

Based on qualitative reports derived from interviews, process observation and relevant documents, this study is aimed at exploring constructions of meaning about adat identity produced through the indigenous activism in Indonesia via a focused study in Meratus communities in South Kalimantan province. Furthermore, illuminated by postcolonial persectives and post-structuralist views, this inquiry was meant to deal with complex ideas of power and social justice that go beyond binary conception of dominant-subordinate relationship in indigenous issues. Above all, the research does not aim to make generalizations about indigenous experiences across all adat communities in Indonesia but rather to examine how national and local processes contribute to the construction of indigeneity in Indonesia.

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