student profile: Mr Jazak Hidayat


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Representations of Adat Communities in Indonesia: a postcolonial analysis of discourses of indigeneity in state policy and social movements

Supervisors: Ruth PHILLIPS , Susan GOODWIN

Thesis abstract:

This research presents an analysis of competing discourses 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 ‘adat communities’. 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 prefers to use the term ‘Masyarakat Hukum Adat’ (customary law communities) to describe communities that live in remote rural areas and strictly maintain their local tradition. However, many NGOs and 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 key questions about how the main actors, the government and NGOs, contribute to the construction of meanings of indigeneity. What makes a community, according to each actor, customary law community or indigenous people? Why is it important to attach such an identity to the community? And how does the community define itself in their response to the actors? These issues need to be dealt with in order to get a better understanding about indigenous peoples in Indonesia which, to a great extent, is hegemonized by the flourishing global notion of indigeneity.
Based on a postcolonial theoretical perspective, this study is aimed at exploring constructions of meaning about adat identity produced through the state’s and activisms’ discourses in Indonesia via a focused study in several adat communities in South Kalimantan province. Therefore, 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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