1st Edition

Territorial Change and Conflict in Indonesia Confronting the Fear of Secession

By Ratri Istania Copyright 2023
    216 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book focuses on Indonesia and investigates why competition between various identity-affiliated groups to claim a new province increases conflict severity. It includes a quantitative study, along with complementary case studies of provinces in Indonesia, which provide evidence that group fragmentation plays a role in determining conflict during a new province’s struggle.

    Against the background of the Indonesian government’s territorial autonomy (TA) strategy, regional proliferation, or pemekaran, the author examines the long-term decentralization project in Indonesia, which has an ethnically and religiously divided population. The book provides answers to the questions of how the new province claim increases conflict in the supporting districts and how competition among diverse elites in districts pursuing a new province precipitate conflict within the region. Based on extensive field research, the four case studies of districts with varying degrees of conflict reveal that the campaign for a new province proliferation increases the probability of conflict at the district level and conflict can escalate during the initiation of a new province stage. The author argues that more provinces may be necessary to ensure the fair distribution of wealth that would enable the whole population to enjoy a similar quality of life and that the Indonesian government needs to wisely and strategically uphold its unity if a federal arrangement is not an option.

    Offering a novel contribution to the study of the relationship between territorial change and conflict in Indonesia, this book will be of interest to academics studying Indonesian politics, Southeast Asian politics, as well as identity and ethnic politics.

    1. Introduction

    2. The Arguments Behind Territorial Autonomy and Conflict

    3. Methodology

    4. The Quantitative Study: New Province Claim and Conflict

    5. Bima: Messy Beginning, Yet a Promising End

    6. Cirebon: Too Many Interests, Too Little Consensus

    7. Tana Toraja: Myth and Tradition that Keep Toraja’s People Together

    8. Purwakarta: The Null Case

    9. Connecting the Puzzle


    Ratri Istania is an Assistant Professor at NIPA Polytechnic School of Administration (Politeknik STIA-LAN Jakarta) and Senior Researcher at Populi Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research, Jakarta, Indonesia. The preparation for this book was conducted while she was a Postgraduate Research Fellow and Part-time Faculty Member in the Political Science Department at Loyola University Chicago, USA.

    'Territorial Change and Conflict in Indonesia provides a compelling and carefully researched answer to a pressing question in Indonesian politics: how to balance Indonesia’s territorial structure with the interests of its ethnically and religiously diverse population? This book shows how groups press their demands for new provinces, revealing the dynamics of political competition among national, provincial, and local interests over the shape of the local state, and using a comparative approach to explore both successful and unsuccessful cases of territorial change.'

    Thomas B. Pepinsky, Cornell University, USA

    'This is a thoughtful and well-researched study for those interested in identity politics and territoriality in Indonesia and more generally.'

    Ehito Kimura, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Hawaii

    'This is an excellent book that studies the relationships between the development of new provinces and conflict in Indonesia. Combining both quantitative research and in-depth case studies, the author elucidates the mechanism by which variables combine to produce various conflicts outcomes. This book is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in territorial integrity and conflicts.'

    Eunsook Jung, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA