Who is Indigenous Here? The Rising Stakes of Recognition in Indonesia

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Friday, January 26th, 2018

Friday, January 26, 20184:00PM - 6:00PMBloor - Classroom, 315 Bloor Street West
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In Indonesia, as in other parts of Asia, the concept of indigeneity forged in white settler colonies is an awkward fit. Arguably, everyone is indigenous, or no one is indigenous. Nevertheless, discourses of indigeneity have taken hold. In India and the Philippines, contemporary concepts of indigeneity map onto colonial categories used to distinguish peasants from tribes. Whereas, in Indonesia, the Dutch colonial power did not divide the population in this same way, making recognition especially problematic. Yet the stakes of defining who qualifies as indigenous in Indonesia have risen in the past decade. The government has passed numerous regulations, which recognize the existence of distinct “customary communities” and enable these communities to hold land communally. Donors hope indigenous people with tenure security will conserve forests and mitigate climate change. This is a moment of opportunity and risk, as identity displaces visions of social justice based on principles of land-to-the-tiller and common citizenship.


Mayumi Yamaguchi
(416) 946-8996


Tania Li
Tania Murray Li teaches Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy and Culture of Asia.

Takashi Fujitani
Professor and Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies

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