Sortuz: Oñati Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies, Vol 6, No 2 (2014)

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Contested land, contesting laws. A context of legal pluralism and industrialization in Indonesia

Joeni Arianto Kurniawan


Along the history of mankind, it has been proven that human life cannot be separated from land. Land serves fundamental functions for human life such as the resource to fulfil the human needs, the place to settle and live, etc. Humans then develop notions and values about land along with the development of their civilization, and since the socio-cultural development varies over many contexts, the notions and values about land are also diverse according to the socio-cultural context where such notions and values develops; it includes the law regulating land matters. In Indonesia, where economic development is highly relied on industrialization, land is utilized as resource for industrialization and it is regulated and justified by the state laws. However, due to its socio-cultural plurality, not all Indonesian people submit themselves under the rule of state law. There are traditional communities of Indonesian people who still defend their traditional institutions and customary laws which have different notions and regulations about land from what regulated by the state laws. So, there is a state of legal plurality in Indonesian society, and this has an impact on land matters. Unfortunately, such plurality of law is less regarded by the government and this leads to land conflicts as one of the most frequent conflicts happening in Indonesia nowadays. This article will elaborate one case of said conflicts to show that land conflicts involving traditional communities in Indonesia have roots in legal pluralism as a social fact, and even further, it is a reflection of a political complexity in a culturally diverse country like Indonesia.

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