Local elite rule over small villages in Indonesia

Jul 03, 2008

Dutch-sponsored researcher Y. Argo Twikromo has investigated how the local ruling elite have retained their political control over the local population. He has tried to understand and analyse the dynamic processes of state formation and the interaction between national states and local communities.

For a long time it was thought that modern states were strong enough to stamp out the political and cultural independence of small, traditional communities. Instead however, 'modernity' has strengthened the position of the local ruling elite.

Initially, they were the ones who mainly reaped the benefits of the organised development programmes. This is because external organisations considered the local ruling elite to be the representatives of the community. Funds for the community flow via the ruling elite and are retained by them. Secondly, they have become the 'gatekeepers' of the community.

They maintain the key contacts between the kampong and the outside world. Without them local residents cannot find work and cannot send their children to secondary education. Therefore, the local ruling elite have proven to be extremely successful in protecting the social and economic boundaries of the village.

When Indonesia was still a colony, the government maintained a policy of indirect governance. This administration left power in the hands of the local ruling elite and with tribal heads of local communities. Following independence in 1945, the government came with its policy of national unity. Argo Twikromo's research is focused on the village of Kamatuk on East Sumba.

Kamutuk is a highly resilient community that over the past fifty years has not only survived, but has also kept the regional powers at bay. They did this by adhering to the local traditions and by avoiding direct confrontations. At the same time they gratefully accepted all possible advantages of missionary work and the state.

The local population sees no opportunities to escape from the pressure imposed by the local ruling elite (maramba). The maramba have been able to maintain their local ruling positions, their control over land and cattle and their almost exclusive control of the labour market. The community of Kamutuk, just as in many other East Sumbanese villages, has proven to be immune to interference from external parties.

Source: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Explore further: Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Novel technique for pasteurizing eggs wins patent

7 minutes ago

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted a patent to a novel technique and device for pasteurizing eggs developed by engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and the ...

How seeds recognise the seasons

29 minutes ago

Scientists at the University of York have played a key role in new research into the way 'mother' plants use their memory of the seasons to teach their seeds the most advantageous time to germinate.

Key to longevity of imperial Roman monuments

17 minutes ago

No visit to Rome is complete without a visit to the Pantheon, Trajan's Markets, the Colosseum, or the other spectacular examples of ancient Roman concrete monuments that have stood the test of time and the ...

Recommended for you

Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

11 hours ago

The three prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz in one of the most famous and elaborate prison breaks in U.S. history could have survived and made it to land, scientists concluded in a recent study.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

menkaur
not rated yet Jul 03, 2008
good idea

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.