Communal Conflict and Decentralisation in Indonesia
The Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Occasional Paper No. 7
18 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2007 Last revised: 3 Apr 2009
Date Written: July 1, 2007
Decentralising reforms in the period 1999-2001 were associated in some places with communal (religious and ethnic) warfare. The connection can be better understood with the techniques of resource mobilisation than with those looking for grievances. The former takes more interest in history and politics than in timeless hurts. A study of the conflict narratives shows that these episodes emerged as 'politics by other means' at a moment of opportunity following the collapse of the New Order in 1998. They were led by urban middle class elements in provincial towns outside Java that were particularly dependent on state subsidies. The history of these mainly administrative towns is entwined with that of state formation throughout the twentieth century. In the short term, a practical solution to these problems has been found in learning to make better local rules. In the longer term, they lie in building a substantive democracy in Indonesia, even at the risk of messy communitarian expressions of popular sovereignty.
Keywords: decentralization, ethnic conflict, religious conflict, communal conflict, democratization, Indonesia, urban conflict
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