Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 January 2015
Challenging conventional wisdom, this article argues that Indonesia — long home to both large-scale transmigration programmes and a range of conflicts — has not witnessed transmigrant conflicts. The vast majority of Indonesian transmigrants were resettled in parts of Sumatra which have remained peaceful. In some conflicts, the role of transmigration has been exaggerated. In others, interethnic violence has involved spontaneous migrants rather than state-led transmigrants. We conclude with a discussion of two potential outliers, where violence has been directed towards transmigrants, but only those from disaster-affected regions who arrived en masse. This article argues for a more nuanced understanding of the distinctions between different forms of internal migration, some of which have the potential to spark future violence in recipient areas and communities.
1 ‘Native’ refers to groups who trace their roots to a given territory to time immemorial, or at least before the arrival of others. It is a broader term than ‘indigenous’, which suggests a more specific identity, perhaps with non-state social formation.
3 This project combined fieldwork carried out by the two co-authors. Shane Barter's fieldwork focused on Aceh. Working for Forum-Asia in 2003–04, he interviewed over 100 Javanese displaced from Aceh to North Sumatra. In 2008–09, he conducted eight months of dissertation fieldwork in Aceh (primarily South Aceh, Aceh Tenggara, Aceh Besar, and Bireuen) where he conducted nearly 150 interviews in various villages, mostly open-ended group interviews with various societal groups (chiefs, ulama, women, minorities). Follow-up interviews were carried out in summer 2014 in Bireuen and Central Aceh.
Fieldwork by Isabelle Côté was conducted in Lampung, Riau, Kepri, and Jakarta from October 2010 to February 2011. It entailed informal and unstructured interviews, conversations, participant observation and general living experience within households. A total of 108 people were interviewed, including 52 elites (e.g. government officials, NGO workers, local scholars), 37 local people (e.g. pensioners, farmers, students), and 19 migrants (both spontaneous and transmigrants).
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112 Indeed, critics have pointed out that the transmigration sites are too remote, overlooking the conflict-preventing logic of this practice.
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115 Bertrand, Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia, p. 93. Along with this, Bertrand also notes the importance of ethnoreligious differences.
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