As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I've been posting less frequently because I have been focusing on finishing up my dissertation and on writing articles for scholarly journals. The past few months have been quite productive for me, and I've been fortunate enough to have had several articles accepted through peer-review. These articles will appear soon in several journals. Below I've included publication information along with abstracts. If you are interested in reading any of these articles, please contact me though this blog's email.
Thanks for reading, and I'll be making at least one or two posts later this month on customary law in Indonesia.
1. Bettinger, Keith Andrew. IN PRESS. "Death by 1,000 Cuts: Road Politics at Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park. Conservation and Society.
Abstract: This paper examines how decentralization reforms have led to an increase in road proposals in the districts around Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP). Roads through the park, which is still under the authority of the central government, are illegal, but the newly empowered districts argue that the park's existence is an unfair obstacle to regional economic development, and that the roads would aid in the improvement of the local economies. The article examines Sumatra's extractive economy in a historical context, arguing that past economic patterns have helped to shape the conflicts over access to resources at KSNP. District elites are attempting to maximize their access to and benefits from natural resources using a variety of strategies to push for the construction of roads through the park. Three case studies illustrate discursive and strategic practices utilized by district elites to gain support for roads. These strategies include the discursive construction of a new district geographic identity, the use of formal powers to encourage informal and illegal activities, and the formation of ad-hoc coalitions across scales.
2. Bettinger, Keith Andrew. IN PRESS. "The Secret Valley Divided: Administrative Proliferation in Kerinci Valley, Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia". Journal of Rural Indonesia.
After the fall of president Suharto Indonesia implemented sweeping decentralization reforms with the goal of rebalancing powers and responsibilities between the central government and the regions. Among the raft of new laws was legislation that allowed for increased proliferation (pemekaran) at the district/municipality and provincial level. In theory administrative proliferation would increase citizen participation and efficiency in governance. After 12 years the number of districts in Indonesia has nearly doubled, but there are indications that the performance of new regions is not living up to expectations. This paper examines one case: the creation of the administrative municipality of Sungai Penuh, which was split off from Kerinci District, Jambi Province, Sumatra, in 2009. I find that the process of new region creation in Kerinci has been dominated by local elites and has actually decreased unity within the district and has given rise to a movement to further sub-divide the district. The implementation of pemekaran created new tensions, and very likely will undermine the medium and long-term prospects for development in the region.
3. Bettinger, Keith Andrew. ACCEPTED. "Puncak Andalas: Functional Regions, Territorial Coalitions, and the Unlikely Story of One Would-Be Province". Indonesia.
This paper examines an under-the-radar campaign to establish a new province on Sumatra from pieces of three existing provinces (Bengkulu, West Sumatra, Jambi). Previous scholarship has shown that proposals for new provinces in Indonesia generally revolve around identity politics or territorial coalitions. I describe in this essay the territorial coalition supporting Puncak Andalas province while arguing that there is another important factor: the existence of a coherent formal or functional regional identity. The proposed Puncak Andalas province differs from other cases in that there is no ethnic or religious marginalization, nor has the area ever been united as a discrete political, cultural, or economic region. Therefore the territorial coalition must create a regional identity. Moreover, every other province created since the fall of Suharto, as well as all of the potential provinces currently being deliberated by the Ministry of Home Affairs have been or would be formed from a single "mother province". Thus the case of Puncak Andalas reveals a novel strategy for provincial formation. Although this new strategy faces unique challenges, if successful Puncak Andalas province could serve as a template for a flood of new proposals to carve provinces out of hitherto unconnected corners of existing provinces. This paper describes an incremental long term strategy utilized by local elites to mobilize support for intervening goals, each of which is easier to achieve than the formation of a new province, but each of which makes the goal of provincial formation more realistic. This chain of events has unwittingly been set in motion by Indonesia's decentralization and democratization reforms. However, while local elites pursue this strategy to increase their prestige and rent-seeking opportunities, they reify and thus render intractable the marginalization of already peripheral groups through the formation of relatively poor administrative regions. Now that the moratorium on new districts and provinces has apparently lapsed, initiatives to establish new regions will undoubtedly gain renewed momentum. This analysis adds to our overall understanding of the processes and politics of new region formation.
4. Bettinger, Keith Andrew. ACCEPTED. "Political Contestation, Resource Control and Conservation in an Era of Decentralization in and around Indonesia's Kerinci Seblat National Park". Asia-Pacific Viewpoint.
This paper examines the direct and indirect impacts of Indonesia's decentralization reforms on national park-based conservation using Sumatra's Kerinci Seblat National Park (KSNP) as a case study. Though in the years immediately following the fall of president Suharto there were significant spikes in illegal logging in parks throughout Indonesia, this uptick was the result of opportunism stemming from the confused nature of decentralization. Illegal logging has since decreased but now new stresses to parks have emerged. This paper examines three intersections of decentralized politics at the district level and national park-based conservation. These three intersections are tied to key laws passed after the fall of Suharto and are manifested in conflicts stemming from administrative proliferation, road construction, and center-periphery struggles over the control of state resources. This paper ties these legacies of unfinished decentralization to increased levels of encroachment at KSNP. Fifteen years after the end of Suharto's authoritarian Orde Baru, these intersections represent unanswered questions about the extent of decentralization which threaten to undermine Indonesia's protected areas.