Changing patterns of mobility, citizenship and conflict in Indonesia

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Mobility and migration are inherent ingredients of Indonesian cultures. In an archipelago with thousands of islands of various size, character and nature, mobility is an important means to make a living and to survive by migration. The right to free movement in Indonesia is constitutionally granted. It can create mobility and give expression to equal citizenship rights at the same time as it can trigger the enforcement of borders among cultural groups and the ethnification of local and regional politics. Mobility thus always comes along with immobility. Physical mobility of one group of people might cause immobility of another group or it might create cultural and political immobility in the same group. In places such as Eastern Indonesia, people have developed reciprocal means to integrate newcomers. Whereas the immigrants are usually disadvantaged citizens with regards to land and customary rights, those living in the area for generations have nonetheless become integral parts of quite peaceful local settings, one way or the other. The advancement of decentralization, democratization and direct elections of political representatives can lead to political empowerment, the promotion of ethnicity as election capital and changing patterns of belonging. This paper illustrates these ambivalences by looking at mobility in Indonesia more generally and how changing national policies and laws lead to reinterpretations of mobility patterns and trigger changes in relations between local population groups and existing mechanisms of cultural and political inclusion and exclusion. Butonese migrants in Maluku will here serve as a case study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-395
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Identities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Buton
  • citizenship
  • decentralization
  • elections
  • ethnicity
  • Indonesia
  • Maluku
  • Migration

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