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: Best of Last Week – First map of hidden universe, pursuit of compact fusion and new clues about the causes of depression

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

MasterCard, Zwipe announce fingerprint-sensor card

4 hours ago

On Friday, MasterCard and Oslo, Norway-based Zwipe announced the launch of a contactless payment card featuring an integrated fingerprint sensor. Say goodbye to PINs. This card, they said, is the world's ...

Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms

5 hours ago

Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. These particles slow the growth of algae, cause deformities in water fleas and impede communication ...

Atomic trigger shatters mystery of how glass deforms

5 hours ago

Throw a rock through a window made of silica glass, and the brittle, insulating oxide pane shatters. But whack a golf ball with a club made of metallic glass—a resilient conductor that looks like metal—and the glass not ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

14 hours ago

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

14 hours ago

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Recommended for you

Secrets of dinosaur ecology found in fragile amber

13 hours ago

Ryan McKellar's research sounds like it was plucked from Jurassic Park: he studies pieces of amber found buried with dinosaur skeletons. But rather than re-creating dinosaurs, McKellar uses the tiny pieces ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

menkaur
not rated yet Jul 03, 2008
good idea