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Decentralization & Ethnic Regionalism in Indonesia: The Case of Minahas

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Title:Decentralization & Ethnic Regionalism in Indonesia: The Case of Minahas
Authors:Brown, Kirsten Marie
Contributors:Andaya, Barbara (advisor)
Asian Studies (department)
Date Issued:Dec 2002
Publisher:University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract:The fall of Suharto in 1998 has been the catalyst of immeasurable change for the nation of Indonesia. This research has focused on one particular aspect of change since that time: the effect of new decentralization legislature on the mobilization of ethnic identity in Indonesia, with particular attention given to the Minahasa region of North Sulawesi. Although the autonomy laws (UU22/99 & UU25/99) were meant to devolve power from the central government to the regencies, it has been observed that power is currently being devolved to elite members of majority ethnic groups that occupy the regencies. While Suharto had previously held the expression of ethnic identity in check by allowing only "cultural" trappings of ethnicity to be utilized as forms of expression, his removal from government has freed ethnic groups to organize and express themselves for more political purposes. In a process that has been called "Ethnification of the Nation," ethnic groups seem to be organizing themselves into political units with regional boundaries empowered by the new autonomy laws. The leaders of these evolving political units often use ethnic symbols and selective renderings of history to gain popular support and to solidify ethnic boundaries of exclusion and inclusion. This inevitably leads to a discussion of the relationship between "local" and "global" power negotiations that I believe have been the catalyst for laws such as UU22 and UU25 and the empowerment of ethnic groups at the expense of the nation. Problems associated with the decentralization process have made the future of these plans uncertain, but the idea of autonomy has had an important impact on how Minahasans and other ethnic groups within the nation understand their future position as minority religious/ethnic groups with relation to the central government. This thesis will begin by outlining modern concepts of "decentralization" and its associated policies as they have been implemented in many other former colonies around the world. Attention will more specifically focus on decentralization in Indonesia with particular reference to the history of the policy in Minahasa. Decentralization policy and the idea of a Federal Indonesia were popular ideas in Minahasa even before Indonesia had gained its independence from the Dutch and these ideas continue to be popular today. In a later section, I will examine the recent re-invigoration of "Minahasan" as a political force that has blossomed since Suharto's exit from the Indonesian government. Arguing from a platform embedded with symbols of Minahasan ethnicity, Minahasa's leaders are currently in the process of solidifying the boundaries of political and economic membership in the regency. All of this has taken place as a local response to the national decentralization process and what is perceived to be the growing influence of Islam on the central government back in Jakarta. Finally, I will conclude with a general discussion of the prospects and future of decentralization and peace in Minahasa. While the wider implications of the current effort to decentralize Indonesia's administrative and power structures remain to be seen, it may be concluded that already the autonomy laws are changing the socio-political organization of many areas, including Minahasa.
Description:vi, 143 leaves
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: M.A. - Asian Studies

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