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Adat and Indigeneity in Indonesia

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin

Introduction. The Power of Indigeneity: Reparation, Readjustments and Repositioning

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin

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1This volume analyses the way in which the legal category of “indigenous peoples” and, consequently, the notion of indigeneity as propagated by international conventions are understood, deployed and implemented by different actors – national as well as regional and local – in Indonesia. The first two chapters, therefore, discuss the formation of the several different conventions dealing with “indigenous” or “tribal” peoples and the recognition of their legal status as “peoples”, with its inherent right to self-determination, from the perspective of international law. The third chapter, also written from a legal and activist perspective, examines how Indonesia has classified its citizens into different categories; among them, what could be translated as “indigenous” too, but with a derogatory connotation, subsumed as communities which were considered primitive and resistant to development. Only recently has this situation changed, and a new bill on the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples is now being passed through parliament. The following chapters present case-studies from different parts of Indonesia. They show how international discourses, often transmitted through NGOs or the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), a nationwide organisation with more than 2,000 member communities, have been adapted and implemented. The communities benefitting from the recognition of being or becoming “indigenous” or, at least, “having” a special adat (traditions, customs, regulations, and values) ranges from marginalised peoples who fight for the restitution of their rights, especially control over natural resources from which they had been expropriated, to stratified societies and even noble houses, who claim the restitution of their rights and recognition. By deploying indigeneity, each of these actor groups attempts to reposition itself within their particular historical, social and political setting in the multi-ethnic state and to achieve recognition.

2In this introduction, I would like to highlight a couple of encompassing issues which arise in several of the subsequent case-studies; I consider them as fundamental for the understanding of how “indigeneity” has been conceived and is nowadays deployed by a wide range of actors in Indonesia. All of the chapters presenting casestudies are written by “Indonesianists”. However, this book also aims at a readership that is interested in Indonesian indigeneity issues from a comparative viewpoint; it is, therefore, initially necessary to provide some basic information. The last chapter of the book, the Epilogue, written by Francesca Merlan, then takes up some of the topics briefly presented here. She elaborates on them from a higher, more comprehensive anthropological perspective by both characterizing the particular “Indonesian” quality of the cases presented, as well as linking them to general questions and concerns expressed in other indigeneity discussions and movements in other regions of the world.

3The introduction, therefore, outlines firstly the historical background of the category of indigeneity in Indonesia and the way in which international conventions have interacted with nationwide movements fighting for recognition and the restitution of rights. It is against this background that the translation of the Indonesian term adat as “indigenous” has to be understood. In a further paragraph, the question is raised to what extent the interactions between international conventions and the way in which they are implemented through aid programmes also serve the (often hidden) goals of the donors. In most discussions on “indigenous peoples” in Indonesia, and even in the chapters of this book, the oppression or marginalisation of adat communities is traced back to colonial and post-colonial regimes of domination. In the last paragraph, I want to complement these explanations by showing that these more or less recent processes of marginalisation and exclusion were, at least in some parts of Indonesia, preceded by pre-colonial social and political conditions that were just as little free from power relations as those during the 20th and 21st centuries. However, these relations were not based on principles of worldwide capitalistic exploitation.

Historical Retrospective

4AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara), adopted the militant slogan, “If the state does not recognise us, we will not recognise the state” at its first congress in Jakarta in 1999 (Moniaga 2004, 2007). This highlights the political situation of what, according to internationalist definitions, are called indigenous peoples in Indonesia at the end of the New Order regime:

5They had suffered marginalisation, discrimination and dispossession over decades and were classified as inferior to “mainstream” Indonesians, who were following the nationalistic path to progress and development as decreed by the government. Their systematic discrimination, dispossession and displacement were not an invention of the New Order regime (1965-1998); their genealogy can be traced back to the Dutch colonial policy, as many publications and several chapters of this volume document. The fall of the Suharto regime in 1998 and the subsequent onset of the reform era (reformasi), which promoted decentralisation and aimed at democratisation, have offered the opportunity to the indigenous peoples (masyarakat adat) and to the government to recover the injustices and dispossessions which these people had suffered.

6Reformasi, whose major pillars are regional autonomy and democratisation, has opened up the chance of negotiations for many indigenous peoples to recapture what they have lost: dignity, recognition, rights, and possessions, namely land. However, the decades in which several laws, especially those concerning agriculture (Basic Agrarian Law, BAL, No. 5/1960), forestry (Forestry Law, BFL, no. 5/1967) and mining (Mining Law no. 11/1967), had been enacted have left their enduring traces which are difficult to eliminate (Bakker and Moniaga 2010; Moniaga 2007; see the chapter by Arizona and Cahyadi in this volume). These laws formed the basis for the expropriation of indigenous peoples and the exploitation of natural resources to the profit only of the central state.

7These laws are one aspect of the repressive government’s legacy; the administrative structure, for example the division of land management – land is the most hotly disputed issue between the indigenous peoples and the government – into two ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry, each of them with its own tasks and goals, is another. A third legacy of the decades of the New Order regime is the bureaucratic authoritarianism (Bakker and Moniaga 2010:200) and the corresponding habitus of many civil servants that has not (yet) really changed. Since these reformation processes started in Indonesia after 1998, the masyarakat adat in almost all provinces, the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, which in 2013 noted about 2,000 member communities, national and transnational NGOs and, of course, the administration and the government on all its levels (local, regional, provincial, and national) have been engaged in negotiations and even battles over these issues.

8A first milestone in the fight of indigenous communities to get back their rights and especially their adat land (see chapters by Steinebach and Grumblies in this volume), seems to have been set with the Constitutional Court’s decision in May 2013. It decreed the elimination of

“the word ‘state’ from Article 1 (f) of the 1999 Law on Forestry, which previously declared that ‘customary forests are state forests located in the areas of custom-based communities’. Also revised was Article 5 of the law, which stated that state forests include customary forests”.
(Jakarta Globe 18.05.2013)

9With this decision, the state formally loses millions of hectares of forest land, most of them granted as concessions to natural resource industries (private as well as state-owned companies), especially mining, logging and agriculture. The concession holders will be obliged in the future to directly negotiate with the local communities and no longer only with representatives of the national government. The impact of this change and to what extent the state is forced to return all this land (which, by no means, is still all covered with what is usually understood by “forests”) or how this will be implemented in practice is difficult to anticipate. This case illustrates that the indigenous communities and the state not “only” negotiate about ancestral forests, but about fundamental means of production with considerable yields that have, so far, officially gone into the treasury and contributed substantially to the national budget.

Interaction with the International Moves

10The developments in Indonesia and the increasing voicing of indigenous peoples’ claims for recognition and rights since the early 1990s and the international support they receive, cannot be considered independently from the international stage and its worldwide campaigns and organisations, such as the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNESCO. The first “International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”, launched by the UN General Assembly, lasted from 1995 to 2004, and the second Indigenous Peoples’ Decade lasts from 2005 to 2014. These decades have drawn worldwide attention to the issue of marginalised and oppressed peoples and made these peoples also aware that the time was ripe for their requests to be heard and enforced.

11In the aftermath of the World War II and in wake of decolonization, a few conventions and declarations were issued that all display similar ideas about society and humanity. They anticipated universal values, such as the separation of powers, rule of law, social justice, equality of the citizens before the law, and freedom of the individual. Such values are embodied in the UN Human Rights Convention (1948), the ILO 169 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (1989, entry into force 1991; not ratified by Indonesia) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007; adopted by Indonesia in 2007, but characteristically not by the four settler states U. S. A., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). These conventions and declarations (for a detailed discussion, see the chapter by Göcke in this volume) all emphasise the importance of “tribal” or “indigenous people” and the recognition and restitution of the rights they deserve after decades of dispossession and oppression. All of these international regulations, however, bear the mark of the problems settler states had (the relationship between the “white” or in any case dominant settlers and the indigenous peoples) (see Merlan 2009). These regulations, therefore, seem to aim at recognising the original inhabitants and at least partly restoring their rights in the states established by the former colonizers. The special rights the decrees endow indigenous peoples with, however, apply to the indigenous communities in all states, at least to those who have signed these agreements. However, the formulation of special rights for indigenous peoples in these agreements only marginally reflects the situation in countries such as Indonesia with thousands of self-identified indigenous communities.

  • 1 Adat, though a complex concept, can be briefly described as customary localised ways of life, regul (...)

12UNESCO complemented these UN human rights regulations with conventions that have their focus somewhere else, but can clearly be identified as accompanying measures to the UN decrees: The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005, in force since 2007; accession by Indonesia in 2012). These conventions focus on “culture”, and underline that “culture” can be protected and promoted only if human rights and fundamental freedoms are guaranteed. They also emphasise the role “culture” plays as a vehicle of identity and how, in particular, indigenous peoples have acted as preservers and safeguards of cultural heritage. Here, apart from the characterisation of indigenous peoples as social groups that have suffered historical injustices in many ways, cultural values and practices are in the foreground. In fact, “culture” lies at the core of what in Indonesia is called adat.1 Indigenous peoples in Indonesia, apart from their history of oppression and dispossession, ultimately argue with their particular localized “culture” that distinguishes them from others; a specific definition of their cultural particularity is, therefore, required to fill the “tribal slot” (Li 2000; and see below). Undoubtedly, the way in which “culture” as a distinctive mark of indigenous peoples that others do not possess is used in international and national or local discourses implies a “politicization of culture and its treatment as property” (Greene 2004:212).

From Ada to “Indigenous”

  • 2 During the New Order, one derogatory term to denote indigenous peoples was komunitas adat terpencil(...)
  • 3 Merlan calls “indigeneity” an “internationalist category”, which is associated with some universali (...)

13The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, for example, illustrates that indigenous peoples are described as a distinct socio-cultural category and deserve special promotion, protection – and rights. As the chapters by Göcke, Cabrera and Arizona/Cahyadi (in this volume) explain, the category of “indigenous peoples” is only loosely defined in the international decrees; no definite criteria are given that would allow their unequivocal identification. An emphasis lies on the self-identification of being “indigenous”. The self-identification as “indigenous” opens up a wide range of possibilities for communities for a repositioning vis-à-vis the state. Tyson emphasised that adat can be portrayed “as imaginative and adaptive, serving as a living and evolving body of agreements, rights and rules” (2011:655). The translation AMAN made of masyarakat adat, which literally means “customary communities”2, as “indigenous peoples” has to be understood as a possibility to interlink with the transnational indigeneity movements, as one of my interlocutors in Bali pointed out (see the chapter by Hauser-Schäublin in this volume).3 In short, the translation as “indigenous peoples” is also a strategic positioning within the globe. The networking with transnational indigeneity movements and with sponsor organisations is crucial for the funding of AMAN and its projects, as well as for negotiations with the government. Without this international ideational and financial support, AMAN would not be such a strong and influential organisation as it is at present (see the chapter by Sanmukri in this volume).

14In any case, “indigenous peoples” is a relational term in several ways (see also Merlan 2009). In a socio-political respect, this term refers to the relationship of a smaller, less powerful society to a more powerful majority or dominant society or nation-state, and implies the marginalisation and discrimination they experienced due to their culture. Thus, what was once the reason for the suffering of all the injustices, their culture in the widest sense, has become an asset in the meantime.

  • 4 The Draft Law on the Recognition and the Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (RUU PPHMHA (...)
  • 5 These criteria are more or less identical with those established by AMAN (see also Tyson 2011).
  • 6 This special status is anchored in adat and legitimizes claims based on descent, or jus sanguinis, (...)

15According to the new law on indigenous peoples4 that is currently (2013) being discussed in parliament in Indonesia, masyarakat adat needs to display five features for official recognition as masyarakat hukum adat, customary law community: to have a shared history, to own customary land, to have adat law, to possess specific property relations and inheritance/or adat artefacts, and to have a customary governance system (see the chapter by Arizona and Cahyadi in this volume).5 Indigenous peoples or rather customary law communities are to be granted a special status and corresponding rights and entitlements.6 The international conventions, especially those from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, emphasise that self-identification is the major factor of determining which community is “indigenous” or not (Gausset, Kenrick and Gibb 2011:137). In the Draft Law on the Recognition and the Protection of the Indigenous Peoples (RUU PPHMHA) in Indonesia, self-identification is a key criterion for the communities’ self-determination. However, this is only a first, though significant, step in the process of full official recognition and acceptance. The acknowledging of this status needs to be carried out in further steps by political bodies (see the chapter by Arizona and Cahyadi in this volume).

Indigenous Peoples and their Missions

  • 7 The motto of Indonesia is “Unity in diversity” (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika).

16Since the international community has put the “indigenous peoples” on their agenda, a number of inter- and transnational organisations, such as the World Bank, and also state-funded development organisations and a large number of NGOs have put up special education and “capacity building” programmes and funds for indigenous peoples in all parts of the world, Indonesia included (see the chapter by Sanmukri in this volume). Among the special education programmes are also those which teach people about Human Rights and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Rights! Training Manual 2010; ILO 2009). Here, (“community training”) processes with multiple translations (with continuous reinterpretations) in both directions between international and national organisations and the local people take place; they influence the way in which these rights are finally understood and adopted by local communities. As Merry has pointed out, intermediaries or facilitators play a crucial role in the way they translate up and down (2013:214; see also Rottenburg 2002). The individual cultural systems of particular values, rules and practices of this multitude of these customary communities (“diversity” in its literal sense as spelled out by the national motto7 ) are only marginally taken into account by the agents of inter-and transnational organisations when they transfer such universally conceived rights from the international through the national and, finally, to the regional and local level. Nor do they seem to bother how the relationship between a (historically and culturally shaped) nation state and – in the case of Indonesia – its thousands of indigenous communities can be configured in a fair way for all parties. Thus, the situation of legal pluralism, with all its inherent contradictions and competing goals, that arises from this situation is a challenge to all stakeholders (see Benda-Beckmann 2010), especially policy-makers. Moreover, in practice, national law and indigenous regulations are not separate domains with regard to the actors: There are no clear-cut boundaries between the state administration and its staff, as well as local deputies and political office holders, on the one side, and actors who argue and act on behalf of adat on the other (see the chapter by Müller in this volume). This creates a broad grey area for ambitious actors to make use of both domains and their powers and combine them to reach their own goals or those of their parties, depending on the particular circumstances and goals (see the chapters by Grumblies and Müller in this volume).

17The engagement of inter-and transnational institutions, that often hire NGOs to transmit and implement programmes and money from industrialized nations to countries of the south, often have a specific goal in mind that encompasses the endeavour to assist indigenous peoples to achieve equality and a full enjoyment of citizens’ rights (see the chapter by Sanmukri). Environmental issues are fundamental in indigenous peoples’ claims for the restitution of their ancestral land. Yet, environmental issues – the topic of forest conservation – are also dominant in many international programmes destined for indigenous peoples. These programmes (and the organisations) often have a particular concept of the “indigenous” that is reminiscent of the noble savage of earlier times (see Greene 2004). Indigenous peoples are assumed to be more or less the timeless guardians of the forest who have been living in balance and harmony with nature for centuries at least. They are imagined by experts as holders of communal land rights and, therefore, ascribed as the ideal performers of “community-based forest management” (Li 2010:388). They are considered to be destined to be the promoters and preservers of the forests and biodiversity. At the same time, they are seen as those actors who, through their way and life and world-view, will be able to counterbalance the CO2 emissions. They should perform the role of the saviours from global warming (see also Benda-Beckmann 1997).

18As Li (2010) has already mentioned and as the chapters by Steinebach and Grumblies (in this volume) show, “the indigenous peoples” or masyarakat adat cover a wider range of peoples with different livelihood systems. Most of them are no longer nomads roaming through the forests and living only from what nature offers them as the term in its original and romanticizing sense suggests. Most of them today lead a sedentary life as small-scale farmers and practice cultivation; they also engage in cash crop production, such as coffee, cocoa, rubber, or even palm oil. There is a gap between the local practices of indigenous peoples and the assessment by and the expectations of outsiders.

19Li has convincingly shown that the earlier practices of dispossession by the (colonial) government of indigenous peoples from their land and natural resources are now followed by procedures, implemented by transnational organisations (including the World Bank), to fix indigenous peoples in place by conferring on them the task and responsibility of safeguarding the forests – for global benefits. Li relates the seemingly opposed mechanisms of dispossession which the indigenous peoples suffered to the procedures of the “communal fix” (by advocating communal land rights and, consequently, the community-based forest management they should carry out) they are now supposed to undergo. She explains this as the dynamics of capitalism, which she understands as “an assemblage of disparate elements, practices, and processes each with its own history of violence, law, hope, and struggle” (2010:400). Both the mechanism of dispossession and possession are, as Rata comments, in the “interest of capitalism’s market forces”. Indigeneity is used as an ideology of management of people to land (2010:406).

“Indigenous Peoples” and Earlier Systems of Domination

20Nevertheless, it would be wrong to assume that before capitalism entered countries like Indonesia, relationships existed based on equality between complex societies and the smaller rather dispersed communities in forested or mountainous areas. Neither were (and are) societies which nowadays claim to be indigenous or masyarakat adat egalitarian, such as the Toraja (see the chapter by Klenke in this volume) or Bali (see the chapter by Hauser-Schäublin in this volume). Kingdoms and sultanates with a ruling elite and subjects of different types, many of whom were slaves, existed in many parts of the archipelago. In brief, social order in Indonesia was seldom egalitarian, either within society or between societies (Henley and Davidson 2007:4-5). The relationship between the dominant, mostly stratified, agrarian or trading societies (such as the early kingdoms and later, the sultanates) and communities living away from the centre and practicing a different form of livelihood was multi-facetted. Apart from different forms of exchange and patron-client relationships, many of these communities were regarded as inferior and treated in a derogatory way. They were also the subject of encroachments by the dominant lowland societies or states which also partly resulted in colonization, in human trafficking (as slaves, such as the Papuans sent to the Chinese court; Papuan people had been raided and brought as slaves to Java already since the 10th century, see Penders 2002:116) and even extinction (see, for example, Hauser-Schäublin and Ardika 2008).

21There is, however, a substantial difference between the pre-colonial and the colonial and post-colonial, mainly the New Order era, which I can only briefly outline here: The idea (and practice) of a territorial state, the nation-state, was imported and implemented with colonialism. As is well known, the early Southeast Asian states were not territorial states but geographically shifting polities lacking strict borders, especially the idea of definite geographic borders. They have been characterised as mandala, galactic or segmentary states (for an overview, see Day 2002), and the rulers’ power was indicated by the number of his people rather than the extent of the territory. Accordingly, expansionist attacks on neighbouring regions were not carried out to gain land but rather manpower or goods (such as commodities brought by foreign merchants or sacred regalia). The dominant societies, therefore, were not aiming at evicting the communities living in fringe areas from their land. Exchange and trading relations constituted a kind of division of labour and both parties needed and relied on the knowledge and goods, the other was able to provide. Thus, there was no reason to expel those who provided the dominant society with goods it otherwise, without the knowledge of the providers, would not have received. The people had to remain in place if their partners wanted to benefit from them.

  • 8 Despite all the flaws anthropological and legal studies carried out under colonialism might have, s (...)

22Here, a fundamental difference from the system that started in Indonesia with colonization becomes apparent: The different mode of production, capitalism, and the role land plays as a means of production in this system. The production did not aim at providing, first and foremost, the colonizers with what they needed for their daily living. Instead, it was the production of commodities (or the raw material needed for their manufacturing) for an international or global market. For this purpose, land was the major resource and labourers (not peasants) could be transferred from any other part of the colony to the location of production to carry out the work required. The local people were an obstacle rather than an important partner with unique knowledge. The processes of dispossession and marginalisation and expulsion started.8

23Li has impressively shown (2010) how these processes of dispossession were indeed linked to capitalism and its need and use of land as a means of production to launch plantations, systematic logging, selling concessions to companies for various purposes, and establishing mines or settlements. The dispossessed became characterised against the backdrop of this “modern” and modernising capitalistic ideology: the backward, the animistic, those who practiced a kind of primitive communism (communally owned land) and had not yet completed the evolutionary step to a civilised way of life, open to development. They were the “indigenous”, or as they were called under the New Order, “suku terasing” (isolated tribes), komunitas adat terpencil (remote adat communities) and the like. It was, therefore, the land on which these people were living that the colonisers wanted to get hold of for their own commercial goals. It was primarily for these reasons that they had to be evicted, dispossessed and resettled.

24As Li suggested (2010), today’s self-identification as indigenous peoples (and even the concept as such) may be understood as a defensive response to the dispossession that has been taking place in the many guises of capitalism, through ascribing the role to them as forest preservers or through indebtedness (mortgages, especially of smallscale farmers). The use of adat – and along with it the revival of adat (or perhaps also the other way round) – is also a means of achieving a reconfiguration of power relationships which has become a potent instrument in Indonesia (Tyson 2011, 2010). Adat as a general term is not only restricted to “indigenous peoples”, but also refers to traditions and inherited values in a general way (see Davidson and Henley 2007). In masyarakat adat, the meaning of “indigenous” overlaps and merges with “autochthonous”. Gausset et al. state that “indigenous” implies people who have already been marginalised, while autochthonous may be “reserved for people who are dominant in a given area but fear future marginalisation” (2011:139) or, one could add, as in the case of Bali (see the chapter by Hauser-Schäublin in this volume), who had formerly suffered marginalisation which, however, has come to an end.

25The indigenous peoples are not the only ones who were deprived of their rights and possessions, land and power during colonisation. They do not claim to be “tribes” or specific ethnic groups, but the former traditional elite, the nobility, the kings and sultans, has its particular adat as well (Klinken 2007). It comes, therefore, as no surprise that these people also refer to their particular adat (the courtly culture with its refined arts) and reclaim recognition, rights and especially land. They have formed associations as well and enter into networks with royal families elsewhere. Since many of these aristocratic families were able to keep their symbolic capital (leading roles in rituals, entitlement to awarding noble titles, etc.) or also managed to make accommodations with the ruling party during the New Order regime, several of them gained recognition in the field of politics (see the chapter by Thufail in this volume).


26All these manifold issues which are linked-up in the notion and use of adat, which means so many different things to each of the actors, reveal the heterogeneity of stakeholders and goals. As several chapters of this volume show, “the indigenous” as imagined by international conventions and transnational organisations rarely exists. There is a wider range of different actors who identify themselves as masyarakat adat. Grown out of particular historical circumstances of oppression – colonial as well as post-colonial – all these actors hope to (re-) gain dignity, recognition, rights, and property. They share the effort to achieve a repositioning vis-à-vis the state, which implies, though indirectly, also a repositioning vis-à-vis their “mainstream” Indonesian co-citizens. They all aim at accomplishing a social, political and economic reconfiguration – an advantage, so to say, without spelling out or considering at whose expense. The strategy and power of these movements draw largely on international conventions, all of them inspired by particular humanistic idealistic concepts of society, social equality and participation. The implementation of these idealistic concepts through the funding of international agencies, as well as national, regional and local actors, however, are more pragmatically oriented and often have their own goals in mind rather than those of particular masyarakat adat.


1 Adat, though a complex concept, can be briefly described as customary localised ways of life, regulations and beliefs (for a detailed discussion of adat, its significance and use in present-day Indonesia, see Davidson and Henley 2007). “Culture” is usually translated with budaya in Indonesia. However, budaya refers to specific cultural expressions and arts rather than describing encompassing ways of life and world-views.

2 During the New Order, one derogatory term to denote indigenous peoples was komunitas adat terpencil, literally remote adat communities. This expression was derogatory in meaning in a similar way that the colonial terms “the native”, as well as “indigenous”, “primitive” or “tribal people”, had in anthropology before the transnational indigeneity movement gave “indigenous peoples” a positive connotation (see Kuper 2003).

3 Merlan calls “indigeneity” an “internationalist category”, which is associated with some universalist moral frames, and presupposes that relationships between peoples and their “Others” can be generalised (2009:306).

4 The Draft Law on the Recognition and the Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (RUU PPHMHA); see the chapter by Arizona and Cahyadi in this volume.

5 These criteria are more or less identical with those established by AMAN (see also Tyson 2011).

6 This special status is anchored in adat and legitimizes claims based on descent, or jus sanguinis, which other citizens of the nation state whose equal rights are based only on jus solis do not enjoy; in fact, they are excluded (see Tyson 2011).

7 The motto of Indonesia is “Unity in diversity” (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika).

8 Despite all the flaws anthropological and legal studies carried out under colonialism might have, such as the Adatrechtsbundels of the van Vollenhoven school, these and other publications are important documents for many of today’s masyarakat adat, since they provide evidence of ancestral rights and properties, especially land.

© Göttingen University Press, 2013

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