'May we barter for rice?': Creative precarity and the re-militarization of Indonesia borderlands in Borneo

A Development Research seminar with Dave Lumenta
Dave Lumenta
Scholar and artist. His research interests include research and artistic collaboration with refugees in Jakarta and historical and contemporary ethnography of Indonesia’s borderlands. Find out more about Dave Lumenta
Tuesday 6 Dec 2022, 16:30 - 17:30
Spoken Language
Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
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Dave Lumenta

In this special Development Research Seminar Dave Lumenta investigates the militarization in Borneo’s borderlands.

Indonesia has for the last fifteen years re-established its military presence in the borderlands. The independence of Timor Leste in 1999 coupled with the loss of Indonesia’s claim over the Sipadan and Ligitan islands in 2002 has reinvigorated ideological anxieties over Indonesia’s fragile territorial geobody. This resulted in the re-militarization of Indonesia’s borderlands since 2007. 

Despite the lack of guerrilla activities since 1976, coupled with the fluid and porous nature of the borderlands between Indonesia and the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo, the recent borderland crisis, arguably manufactured by institutional budgetary motives, places the military personnel on site in conflicting positions.

While being officially tasked to guard the territorial integrity of the nation-state, the difficult logistical conditions in Borneo’s remote interior has driven many military personnel towards various ‘illegal but licit’ activities, copying the borderland habitus of the local populace, in overcoming their precarious presence in the borderlands.

This study is positioned to complement the social history of militarization in Borneo’s borderlands.

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The Development Research seminars present cutting-edge research on development studies by noted scholars from around the world. The Series aims to stimulate critical discussion about contemporary development issues.

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