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Adat and Indigeneity in Indonesia

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin

From a Comparative Perspective: Epilogue

Francesca Merlan

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1Given its aim of exploring the relations between legal and anthropological perspectives on indigeneity in Indonesia, the proceedings of the workshop represent the work of two participants with particular legal expertise (Göcke, Cabrera), and a majority of participants with ethnographic and anthropological expertise and interests (Hauser-Schäublin, Steinebach, Klenke, Grumblies, Müller, Sanmukri, Thufail). Among the authors are also scholars who have been closely involved in the work of the principal Indonesian indigenist organisation, AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara, founded in 1999): Arizona and Cahyadi – who also take what might be generally called a legalist perspective, the view of indigenous matters from international and national legal viewpoints.

2I was asked to write an Epilogue to the volume, not as an Indonesianist – which I am not – but as an anthropological colleague with long-standing interest in the development of concepts and practice concerning “indigeneity” as at international, national and other levels. My own main field of relevant research has been in Australia, a settler colony where many of the issues concerning indigeneity are rather different than they are in Indonesia, but perhaps not altogether as different as some may imagine.

3In what follows I first very briefly comment on the results of the Workshop as represented in these proceedings. Then I discuss some of the issues concerning indigeneity in Indonesia that the first summary reveals to be significant. Finally, I offer some comparative remarks situating Indonesia within a broader field of nation-states working through the contemporary emergence of indigeneity; and finally, return to summaries of the papers in this volume in terms of the themes raised in the first sections of this Epilogue.

Brief Summary

4In summary, the content of these papers seems to me as follows: those examining international and Indonesian law concerning indigeneity (Göcke, Cabrera, Arizona and Cahyadi) all fairly clearly presuppose the empirically determinable existence of indigenous people/s whom legal frameworks are intended to support and whose interests they are meant to advance and protect. Thus we may say they all take an “essentialist” view of the category of indigeneity. It is probably significant that among this group of contributors are those who have been closely involved with AMAN as founder/s and supporters and who may therefore, without any prejudice intended, also be considered indigenist advocates.

5Perhaps unsurprisingly, those with anthropological bent (Steinebach, Grumblies, Müller, Sanmukri, Hauser-Schäublin, Klenke, Thufail) all proceed from a more constructionist view of indigeneity. The most influential position of this kind relating to Indonesia has, in my opinion, been established principally though not exclusively in the recent work of anthropologist Tania Li (2000, 2002a, 2007a, b, 2010). Works in this vein explore the complex connections between contemporary processes of indigenous identification with other intertwined categories and processes in Indonesia, including adat (customary law, with its long history of existence as well as re-organisation and systematisation under the Dutch), and various others relating to notions of culture, ethnicity, social inequality and stratification, as well as the work of AMAN itself.

6Thus it seems to me that the original concept of the Workshop – to bring together legal viewpoints and anthropological ones on indigeneity in Indonesia – has not united them as one, but confirmed fairly strong underlying differences in the ways these two groups of practitioners position themselves with respect to the Indonesian situation. Therefore this Epilogue may serve a useful function by attempting to epitomize the elements that go into this difference of viewpoints. AMAN, in particular, continues to struggle to gain legal recognition for communities as indigenous, and the question becomes poignant: who is gaining such recognition, and who not, and on what bases? This Epilogue also seeks to bring this Indonesianist volume into relation with comparative commentaries on some of these issues as they are emerging in other parts of the world; and finally, to summarise some of the themes from the papers.

Indigeneity: Internationalist Phenomenon and Indonesian Interpretations

7Most sources, legal and anthropological, have little difficulty agreeing that “indigeneity” in its current internationalist acceptation is a recent, post-war phenomenon proceeded partly through the general development of multilateral organisations in that period, and that has its strongest organisational and advocacy framework within the UN system (see Muehlebach 2001, Niezen 2003, Merlan 2009 on these developments), especially within the broader organisational framework of human rights issues. Especially the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations was for years a vital node in the developing “indigeno-scape” (Beckett 1996).

8From there, however, it seems to me that there are differences, as there are within this volume, between those who consider indigeneity to be discoverable in essentialist terms, versus those who take some kind of constructionist view of it. The former view, as with essentialism generally, depends on the notion that there is a set of attributes necessary to the identity and function of people as indigenous, which makes them what they are. This set of attributes may be a fixed or variable set, or people may be seen to embody only some and not others, but the basic idea remains that people are “indigenous” and that it remains for them to be appropriately identified as such, now that the category has won some wide recognition.

9The second, constructionist, view – like all views of its kind – rests on the notion that the identification of people as indigenous is contingent on the way that the variables in terms of which this notion is understood by social actors come together with a range of other social variables, rather than being simply understandable as the result of inherent qualities possessed by these people themselves.

10A constructionist view of this kind on indigeneity in Indonesia has been most fully articulated by Tania Li. She sees indigenous identity as neither “natural or inevitable” nor “adopted or imposed” (2000:151), and especially recommends avoiding the pitfall of an extreme instrumentalism or tactical focus, but rather thinking in terms of “articulation” (as per Hall 1986): the notion of forging of particular connections where there is a range of possible connections. Li’s caution concerning avoidance of an instrumentalist extreme is important. For with social constructionism comes a concern to define agency, and with the latter always the possibility of a move to understanding action from an actor-perspective, often as tactical and instrumental, and based on the actor’s considerations of how one maximizes advantage under given circumstances. While some of the papers do show evidence of such maximisation (e. g., Grumblies shows a rapid adoption of indigenist perspectives among Wana), Li (2000:153) notes that while a tactical element “may become explicit at times of heightened politicisation and mobilization”, particular connections (Hall’s “articulations”) are possible and meaningful in that they derive from certain fields of power which cannot be reduced to a given momentary possibility of advantage. In other words, extreme instrumentalist thinking is usually reductionist, and in any case instrumentalism is only an aspect of social process, and does not in itself comprise an adequate understanding of what makes it possible and likely for things to go one way or another, and for actors to choose some possible forms of action over others.

11Li’s (2000) thinking about communities’ adoption of indigenist positions developed through a comparison of two settings in Sulawesi, one in Lauje, the other in Lindu. In both places the main occupation was swidden agriculture, and in both locations there were social and economic dimensions of peasantry. Li wishes to explain these different outcomes, not in terms of essential differences between them, but in terms of the kinds of connections that could be made under particular historical circumstances. The first place remained an ordinary-seeming, indeed somewhat fragmented, peasant community in which people deal regularly with state functionaries; while in the second effloresced an (internationally recognizable) indigenous identity.

12Over time, the Indonesian government has developed (basically) two frames for categorizing village communities: as isolated and exotic (terasing, see also further), and everybody else. The existence of a system of customary law (adat) is not necessarily a feature that clearly or necessarily distinguishes these, as any community (of either kind) may be said to be an adat community if it evinces a system of customary law/culture (frequently one which may have been documented as such in Dutch colonial times, lending it an additional dimension of codification). But in the first mountainous location, Lauje, whose people had periodically been participants in coastal labouring schemes, and later the subject of (unsuccessful) resettlement, there were few thematic foci and (outside) actors of the kind that promoted any focused unification and special identification of the area and its people, such as came to feature in Lindu. In the latter area, a hydroelectric dam was proposed on Lindu lake around which local and (outside) environmentalist opinion and activism coalesced, and in which the locals became able to present themselves and some of their cultural assets as unique, as grounded in the local landscape, and linked to special, valuable forms of environmental knowledge. Thus, against conceivable expectations, over a period of years of activism focused on objection to the damming of the lake, the Lindu population – Christian, relatively welloff in material terms – became able to identify itself, and be accepted as, indigenous.

13Li (2000:169) considers this to be a study in the conditions for articulation, including: focusing of events and efforts around competition for resources, which served to define group boundaries; the existence of a customary political (adat) structure able to represent the local population; the presentation of identity and cultural knowledge in terms intelligible to outsiders; and focus upon a particular place arising from a conflict in terms of which locals appeared pitted against state forces. All of these, runs her argument, were broader conditions or issues with which locally-adopted actions and positions could articulate. The need to understand possibilities for connection, and conditions that may militate against it, in Li’s view should keep us from adopting too instrumental or narrow a view of agency and local aspirations, as well as too simplistic a view of the determinant force of wider conditions.

14Li’s is a kind of position certain not to please everyone, and perhaps especially those who take a more essentialist view of indigeneity: on the one hand her view specifically declines a naturalist view of indigenous “being”. On the other hand, it also may not please some constructionists, in that she counsels against simply strategic or tactical understandings of “becoming” indigenous. More interestingly, the kind of contrast she suggests, between those who can, and those who apparently do not, conform to terms of indigenous identity broadly (i. e., internationally) understood, may actually represent a contrast which applies to a very large number of people in the world whom the UN system at least potentially classifies as indigenous, including many in India, Africa, parts of South-East Asia, and so on. For another aspect of indigenous classification that has to be kept in mind is that it is, like all identifications, relative – and thus depends on an understanding that there are some people who are not indigenous, as well as some who are.

15It is partly because the clarity of classification as indigenous is not obvious in the Indonesian situation that so many other elements and levels come to play a role in the understanding of indigeneity. And this is a place at which it is useful to mention the seeming clarity of difference between colonial settler states and others like Indonesia, and to follow up with some comparative cases more similar to Indonesia in some respects.

Indigeneity Compared

16Many writers on indigeneity have charted its development from within particular international institutional (especially human rights) contexts, and from within the institutional and activist circles of particular nation-states. Muehlebach (2001) traces the latter back to the Americas, and Merlan (2009) argues for a thrust forward in this regard from particularly the Anglo-American settler states (with contributions from Scandinavia), and the counter-movement that made it precisely those states that for a time refused ratification of UNDRIP (Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

17In the settler colonies there appears or is often taken to be a fairly clear distinction between settlers and those who were there before – the indigenous peoples – that simply does not exist in this form in Indonesia, as well as in many parts of Africa, India, and many other parts of Asia and South-East Asia.

18However, in the settler colonies there are certainly complexities in how the category “indigenous” may be applied, and especially how governments delimit its reference with respects to benefits, programs and projects of the state. An important issue has to do with a certain, expectable, lack of clarity about how to define the “indigenous” population when the dimensions of time and intersection with in-coming settler populations are taken into account. With time, as in every settler colony, there has come to be a large number of people who are certainly biological descendants of the pre-colonial population, but also of the colonial population. Typically there is contention over state-led as well as vernacular practices and ideas concerning them. To such populations, that have almost inevitably suffered from dispossession, marginalization and discrimination, recent (especially post-war) liberalizations have increasingly allowed for self-identification as part of a set of moves towards normative recognition. This has had, as one result, identification of themselves as indigenous (or whatever relevant term is nationally or regionally employed) by an increasing number of people, some of whom might have earlier tended to minimize, insofar as possible, their connections to the indigenous population. In Australia and elsewhere, there has also been a distinct tendency for that self-identification to be total, involving a rejection of the idea of “fractional” or “mixed” identities, that include both indigenous and other, perhaps especially “settler”, components. Though gradually there is now an emergent celebration of “mixed” ancestry, there has been some resistance to this. Certainly, a certain line of reasoning or feeling runs: in the past we were discriminated against as if we were “native”, and sometimes – even worse – were regarded as combining the worst traits of native and settler populations. Now, when it is possible, we wish declare ourselves entirely “native”. Since, however, identification is an interactive process which may involve lack of acceptance and certainly almost always involves power differentials; such a self-determined identification is often not accepted by the mainstream or dominant community, who say: these are not native people as we understand it. They are changed from an earlier condition which made them different and, even if we attempted to suppress them in the past, remarkable.

19Both positions, that of the person who wishes to be recognized as “native”, and her “other” whose societal position does not lend support to extinguishing the earlier population physically but to denying the authenticity of mixture, have something in common: they usually do not adequately take account of the fact that none of these processes of mutual identification are outside history and interaction. People do change culturally, attitudinally, biologically, and in their capacities, through interaction, and “miscegenation” is part of that. In short, both positions tend to adopt a static view of what it means to be “native” that harkens back to some early period and imagery, and thus is retrograde with respect to the question of what it might mean to be “indigenous” today. Note that explicitly socio-biological thinking, reckoning purely in terms of biological descent, is politically rather incorrect in the liberal-leaning societies today – so that, on the face of it, biological mixed descent cannot overtly be taken as any kind of conclusive argument against indigenous status. (One may, for these reasons, want to consider the quantitative reckoning of descent fractions by tribal councils on many American Indian reservations as other than” liberal”). Any criteria must also be social and these, inevitably, will be complex and fragmentary – not only with reference to biological but also cultural factors.

20In short, in the settler colonies (as well as in many other nation-states where large-scale interaction of originary and later-introduced populations have been hugely significant shaping processes) issues of identification in a critical sense must be grasped historically and in their particularity. This is something that overarching classifications such as “indigenous” (and even basic colour-based classifications such as “black” and “white”) tend to simplify, if not rigidify. Social process historically understood is apparently highly bounded by such terms as “indigenous”, but many of the underlying societal issues evolve rather than go away.

21But there is an even more problematic aspect of indigenous identification which belies what might be assumed to be the certainty of this category in the settler states. It also has to do with process. And that is the rather recent, foreign and “top-down” nature of this particular form of classification itself, and the processes that gave rise to it. Since it has been developed as a category in international organizational contexts, and intended as inclusive and restorative, it is hardly surprising that the concept of indigeneity as internationally understood, together with the word itself, has limited circulation among most ordinary people to whom it might be thought to apply. “Indigenous” people have been used to calling themselves by other terms, such as “coloureds” (one thinks of the admixtures neatened up from the dominant-society’s perspectives under this term in South Africa), or “Blacks”, or “Aborigines”, or “Murris”, or “Métis”, or “Maori”, or by a whole variety of regionally and sometimes nationally recognized terms that typically do not involve the spatially and socially inclusive, and connective, dimensions of internationalist indigeneity. One might go further and say that the dissemination of ideas concerning indigeneity has been largely the preserve of governmental, professional, internationally-oriented persons and organizations; and that at the social base intended to be represented by this ideal, indigeneity still has relatively little traction (some of the papers in this volume have shown NGOs and activists in Indonesia to be key vectors of notions of indigeneity).

22Internationalist indigeneity evolved partly in the effort of representatives of presettler populations to by-pass some of the rigidities of state management of their situation, and reach for broader international assistance and mechanisms. And while these processes have undoubtedly been influential, they have naturally had a couple of consequences. First, as noted, the social base of such populations has typically remained less than broadly participant in these developments (this may be interestingly compared with the fact that over two thousand Indonesian communities have joined AMAN). But second, some aspects of the processes have become part of the governance functions of the relevant liberal democratic states (one might think here of the evolution of such offices as that of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner in Australia, a branch of the Australian Human Rights Commission created in 1992 in direct response to a national enquiry). So in a sense, such organizations, though critical of government in part, also belong to the range of government structures. The liberal democratic governments of settler states, in short, do not reject the internationalist concept of indigeneity. They accept it – though it carries with it conceptual and practical limitations discussed above – as a category which does some work within the nation-state towards an articulated goal of improving the lot of the country’s most disadvantaged, though how this is to be done is conceived in often radically different ways.

23We may now compare that acceptance and integration of indigeneity into government with the official position of Indonesia, and more broadly, a whole range of nation-states who see the internationalist concept of indigeneity as inapplicable to themselves. To a large extent, their rejection is on the basis of a first principle that there is no clear distinction to be made between earlier and later populations. As Klenke (in this volume) quotes Tsing:

Indigeneity is not a self-evident category in Indonesia. Almost everyone is “indigenous” in the sense of deriving from original stocks; Indonesia is not a white settler state.
(Tsing 2007:34)

24As Klenke remarks, Tsing’s statement relates to the position of the Indonesian state that it is “only marginalization by white settlers that transforms minorities of ‘original stock’ into indigenous people”. While that is certainly the Indonesian state’s position, we may also refer back to Li’s (2000) critical anthropological position that there is no simple or essential distinction to be made between indigenous people and others within the population. In another place Li (2002a: 365) has commented that peoples in Indonesia have co-mingled, displaced each other, and migrated over centuries. And we can also draw in the preceding discussion, which has argued that governments in settler states do not fundamentally reject the internationalist concept of indigeneity, but that their understandings of it inherently tend to immobilize it rather than infuse it with historicity.

25The colonial population in Indonesia was never large and did not lead to a continuing distinction of the settler-indigenous kind such as is found in Australia. Colonists were a governing power but not a demographically significant category internal to Indonesian societies or, eventually, to the internal post-independence state. As these papers (and many others) also illuminate, the possible applicability of notions of indigeneity have widened in the Indonesian reform era (post-1998) characterized by policies of decentralization and calls for greater degrees of local autonomy and broader public participation in socio-economic processes.

26The colonial power exerted, of course, significant effects, including by making use of kinds of socio-political and religious phenomena to categorize and organize the populations they sought to govern. It is within this range of phenomena that much debate about the relevance of “indigeneity” has gained traction in the reformasi period, particularly with respect to all-important socio-environmental issues and tensions over rights in land and land use. A key concept that plays a role in this governmentality is adat, which thus naturally emerges as a principal issue in a number of the papers in this volume (from an historical and legal perspective, Arizona and Cahyadi; Grumblies; Müller; Sanmukri; Hauser-Schäublin; Klenke; Thufail).

27The Arabic-derived word adat has broad reference to cultural norms, values, customs and practices found among specific ethnic groups in Indonesia (as elsewhere in parts of continental and insular south-east Asia), to an (originally) unwritten traditional code regulating social, political, and economical as well as maritime laws.

Autonomous governance, protection from external encroachments, natural resource management and land usage are among the most important features of adat in Indonesia.
(Tyson 2011:653)

28Tyson (2011:654) also observes that status is central to the adat world he writes of (specifically, Sulawesi), introducing an element of social hierarchy and differentiation that has clearly played a large role in contemporary revitalisation of adat in many parts of Indonesia (papers by Klenke on Toraja, Thufail on the keraton, or palace). Li (2007b) discusses a variety of deployments and interpretations of adat, including its use by political elites as an ethno-political tool of mobilization. However, both hierarchy and status differentiation are outside standard internationalist expectations of indigenous peoples and societies, which tend to focus on equality and communalism. Indeed it is often only in terms of an asserted communalism (if not tribalism, see Li 2000), that local populations and villages can confront the powerful interests of resource extraction (forests, minerals) and land use (timbering, plantations).

29British and Dutch colonial powers, as (noted by Arizona and Cahyadi note, p. 4), studied and contributed to codifying adat in many regions, making these available in many cases as Adatrechtbundels (Adat Law Tomes), and even published findings declared to be a “discovery” of customary law. Among other things, the existence of adat law communities became a means of indirect rule. The authors cite ter Haar (ibid) as having seen common origin and shared territory as key dimensions of an adat community, thus raising kinds of problems mentioned by (Li 2000) of the multi-ethnic and historically layered nature of many forms of local organization, and explored also in papers in this volume by Steinebach (this volume, regarding strategic marriage into Batin Sembilan, and by Hauser-Schäublin for Bali, where, disregarding other differences with other parts of Indonesia for the moment), it has been seen as necessary to recognize the “mixed” character of pesisir villages on the northern coast.

30Arizona and Cahyadi further explore the difference between two phrases, masyarakat adat and masyarakat hukum adat, the second of which has a somewhat more delimiting, officialised resonance and usage, while the first is used by NGOs and activists. The phrase masyarakat adat was in fact devised by NGOs in 1993, as a translation for the internationalist concept of Indigenous Peoples, and was assumed to correspond to a category of people living according to ancestral ways and in fixed territories – a correspondence which has proved to be difficult to find on the ground, if not illusory (see Li 2007b: 571ff). The conflict over usage of masyarakat adat and masyarakat hukum adat revolves around the extent to which entities (or communities) as subjects of law have been officialised, or not; and, as the authors put it, the extent to which concepts have been taken over from colonial into current discourse (the addition of Arabic-derived hukum, governance or government, evidently suggests colonial regimentation). But at the bottom of such contests over designations and their content is the question how communal entities are to be defined, most saliently, from the point of view of the state. With the recent addition of questions of “indigeneity”, the question arises how, and which, such entities may be entitled to seek rights or provisions as ones applying to indigenous peoples – a notion which, as earlier noted, the Indonesian state does not see as having application, while activists, NGOs and others contend strongly for such recognition.

31Similar kinds of conflicts about designation and concomitant affordances exist, as Hauser-Schäublin illustrates, in the Balinese contrast between desa dinas and desa adat (official administrative and customary villages respectively), here fully involving the question, not only of their status as entities in relation to the state, but their territorial boundaries. In any event, she notes that in Bali the desa adat has been renamed desa pakraman, a designation connoting religion, territory, and regulations – overall a notion of a customary legal community, but one that also invokes the notion of a shared religion.

32However, none of these alternative designations and complications get past the fact that there is no clear, cross-cutting notion of temporal priority of one definable category of people over others (such as emerges in settler state settings, even if complicated by history in many ways), nor is there a clarity of socio-cultural difference setting off such a putative category from others. The many complications result precisely from the fact of long-term embeddedness of people and villages in landscapes according to local forms of organization and governance. These existed both in relation to pre-state formations, in relation to the colonial system, and were to varying extent codified as part of the colonial project.

33Probably the Indonesian state categorisations which approach most closely notions of indigeneity as understood in international and in other national contexts are those discussed most fully by Steinebach (this volume). These are successive terms by which some populations were considered suku terasing (isolated tribes), masyarakat terasing (isolated communities), and finally as komunitas adat terpencil (remote adat community). Many of these groups were mobile, remote and/or forest-dwelling. They were seen by the state as in need of development, hence periodically removed or re-settled and otherwise subjected to management. Steinebach shows, however, how a spokesperson for such a group explicitly identifies himself and others in many ways with majority rather than marginalized populations: as having in fact been sedentary and having lived lives comparable to others’, fleeing into the forest only to oppose and escape the Dutch. The spokesman cited conjures up a local identity which has as many elements of the peasantry as of any other category, marked by struggles over land with the state. The population referred to, the reader has earlier learned, is also in fact characterized by significant Javanese in-marriage, woven into the fabric of the local community. Overall, such a depiction in relation to the question of the indigenous, or other, identity of such a population seems most satisfactorily illuminated by Li’s notions of the kinds of connections that can be made under complex historical circumstances, not least contemporary ones of resource competition, state decentralization, and reshaping of local political structures, rather than by any simple designation.

34Kinds of complexity in relation to indigeneity have been treated in many other situations in the world, with respect to a broad swathe of nation-states and even large parts of continents. Lutz (2007) notes a general African position that all Africans are to treated similarly, and not singled out for special treatment. Certain African countries (e. g. Botswana) have specified in their constitutions that no such distinctions of race or ethnicity will be made. A range of anthropologists (e. g. Geschiere 2005, Leonhardt 2006) have raised questions of the potentially disruptive effects of internationalist identifications of indigenous peoples as having special status, especially in African contexts in which equal treatment of people as citizens is only weakly established practice, and there are many visible tendencies towards preferential treatment of some, and disregard or worse of others, on the basis of race, ethnicity, tribalism, and/or “autochthony” (see further).

35More particularly, studies of some cases have shown how the application of indigenous concepts yields ambiguous results. In many African contexts, there is a continual negotiation of the relative status of those considered linked to the land over the long term, “sons of the soil” or autochthones, versus those who arrive later from other locations and are seen, sometimes over generations, as recent arrivals or migrants. Kopytoff (1987) has argued that African societies tend to produce themselves at internal frontiers so constituted. And indeed, this distinction was inscribed colonially in Francophone Africa as one between autochthones and allogènes (see Geschiere 2009).

36Pelican (2009) illustrates through a case study of Mbororo of Cameroon how such local discourses of autochthony and internationalist ones of indigeneity yield distinctly different results. Mbororo, who belong to the ethnic category Fulbe, and are Muslim, were originally mobile pastoralists. They have migrated southwards in considerable numbers to reside among Grasslands-dwelling farmers by whom they are considered temporally secondary, or allogènes. Though Mbororo have become sedentary, their outsiders status as “northerners” has been perpetuated over time, so that symbolically they are identified as migrant, and as a pastoral people. Partly, however, because of their original pastoralism and its assumed connotations, the Mbororo were able to achieve international recognition as indigenous. Their (original) pastoralism, nevertheless, conflicts with a dimension of supposed temporal priority of indigenous peoples, for they are, as noted, locally perceived as migrant and it is well understood that they arrived in this area subsequent to those of the category of resident farmer autochthones. The symbolic force of Mbororo as pastoral evidently here has trumped what Malkki (1992) terms the “sedentary metaphysic”, the valuation of being recognized as in place, implying priority and superior belonging. Their preferential identification as indigenous has, as Pelican (2009) illustrates, exacerbated relations with their sedentary neighbours at certain times. The Cameroonian state, though it has introduced a notion of indigenous peoples into its constitution, has not implemented any particular measures on their behalf, so that they have not materially benefited from this identification.

37The potential difficulties of identification of particular groups as indigenous in African contexts was foreshadowed by an African Group’s (2007) aide memoire to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in the run-up to UN adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This memoire specified some African members’ reservations about the legal and constitutional implications of indigenous identification for issues concerning land and resources, distinct political and economic institutions, national and territorial integrity, and sustainability of state responsibility for the monitoring of land and resources (see Oldham and Frank 2008). For another African context, Tanzania, Igoe (2006) has raised some questions comparable to those raised relating to Mbororo. Shah (2010) for southern India has critically analysed local appropriations of discourses of indigeneity as important to the combined perpetuation and transformation, as well as intensification, of class differences. Baviskar (2007) critically discusses the early uptake of indigenist discourses in the context of the Indian Narmada dam controversy by those opposing it, but the later transformation of indigenist into Hindutva (Hindu rightist) activism.

38This brief consideration of concerns about indigenous identification and the relation between international processes and those at other levels could be extended. It serves here to signal a series of critical, practical and moral qualifications concerning indigenous identification: anthropologists’ awareness of how locally pre-existing discourses may be contradictory or incompatible with internationalist precepts; states’ concerns about its implications for some of their functions and relations to citizenries; its possible implications for internal contention within groups seeking indigenist identification, as well as between them and others.

39Returning to Indonesia, Li (2002a) has written about the moral implications and responsibilities incumbent upon anthropologists, activists and others in advancing indigenous claims over those of others. She sketches how, three years after the fall of the Suharto government, a large number of internal refugees had been created in various parts of Indonesia – Papua, Timor, Maluku, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Sumatra – partly as a result of greater freedom on the part of some to unilaterally claim superior rights of belonging in particular locales, and resulting victimization of those seen as migrants. Focusing on the instance of Dayak murder and expulsion of Madurese, in particular, in West Kalimantan, Li raises the question whether ethnic territorialisation may be exacerbated by indigenous rights activism. What seems to provide security for some, who indeed may have been oppressed over a long term, may create radical, life-threatening insecurity for others. Though it may not be altogether fashionable to compliment colonialists, Li regards it as a virtue of the colonial period that in making a tri-partite distinction among Europeans, Foreign Orientals (Chinese, Indians and Arabs), and Natives, it nevertheless did not make invidious distinctions among “Natives” that would have given some priority over others, but instead developed this as a category within which all were regarded as equally native, and which served as a frame for an ideal of common citizenship upon independence. This resonates with the official positions of some African states which recognize the perilous weakness of mechanisms of common citizenship, and the dangers of politicizing distinctions based on notions of priority or exclusive attachment in light of continuing deficits of social justice and pluralist recognition.

Summary of the Papers

40The introduction to this volume by Hauser-Schäublin briefly sketched the emergence of indigenist mobilisation in Indonesia, the forms of imagination which shape internationalist imaginings as against some of the issues of the multiple deployments of adat and concepts of autochthony, as well as oppression and disadvantage, which configure indigenism in Indonesia. This introduction, like much of the material it cites, gives a sense of the complexities involved in the identification of an indigenous sphere, and the multi-vocality of many of the concepts – such as adat – typically deployed in the effort to do so.

41The next several papers deal with indigenism in the framework of international law. Göcke argues that indigenous peoples have been regarded as subjects of international law and holders of sovereignty for centuries, and assumes that they have rights to self-determination, while conceding the ambiguities inherent in the phrase. In my (admittedly anthropology-centric) point of view, the paper stands in tension with the constructivist perspective outlined in this Epilogue, and with some of the further implications of such a perspective.

42Cabrera argues that there have been two kinds of approaches to indigenist identification under international law: a human rights approach (emphasizing needs for protection of often-marginalized peoples) and a second, functional approach which centres on indigenous peoples’ participation, and though it their contributions to attaining international goals in areas of environmental protection, traditional knowledge, cultural diversity, economic development and international governance generally.

43Arizona and Cahyadi’s is a paper which highlights some of the way-points in the development of indigenous activism in Indonesia, the emergence of AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara), and most recently, and both the passage of new laws protective of indigenous rights (RUU PPHMHA) and their shortcomings. Arizona and Cahyadi see shortcomings as consisting in the constraints imposed by traditional elites, as well as the “conceptual imprisonment” reflected in recent regulations. They advocate the need to transcend this.

44Turning to the more anthropological papers, Steinebach contributes to the depiction of the historically changing, multi-faceted and complex position of people she writes about, whom some might seek to classify as indigenous. Generally known as Batin Sembilan (“nine tribes”, and exponents of a deep, regional and politically relevant ‘tribal genealogy’), they were previously qualified as kubu (hiding, isolated), later as kommunitas adat terpencil (traditional remote community). They generally evince an anti-colonial positioning, characteristics of a landed peasantry, as well as being integrated into market production and aspiration and hoping to gain further access to land for oil palm development. As noted above, this case well illustrates the complexities of which Li writes, discussed above.

45Grumblies writes of Wana, a relatively isolated but nevertheless cash-cropping population who retain cosmological understandings of the region as having been inhabited by ancestral taw Baraka (powerful people). Over a relatively short period of time these people were contacted by exponents of indigenous identification and developed some enthusiasm for pursuit of the possibilities such identification would enable. At the same time, these developments created some distrust between older and newer leaders as these new constellations for mobilisation developed. Seeing Wana enthusiasm for participation in indigenist mobilisation as grounded in long-term injustice in economic and other terms, Grumblies also notes a reluctance on the part of some who fear that new forms of relationship and empowerment will render them ineligible for reward by the taw Baraka (powerful people) whose return some still anticipate.

46Müller discusses contestation over the desirability of strengthening of adat in Tobelo, North Halmahera, a predominantly Protestant district. In view of a recent history of violent conflict, some movement in favour of adat has emerged, as well as some strength of opposition to doing so, and to the measures proposed. Questions that preoccupy the contestants are: what form/s of adat, according to proponents, are to be strengthened? And what would be the implications for others? One of the crucial objects of contestation is the symbolic unity of adat as grounded in Hibua Lamo, a notion of an ideal-material constellation of ten communities living in four regions of the district. Activists, largely located near Tobelo town, are led by a district head who is, at the same time, an advocate for the renewal and extension of unifying adat and a member of North Halmahera parliament. Their advocacy for regional unity of adat, is framed in terms of the maintenance, indeed renewal, of culture and traditional performance; but not only this. Some also see in this unity a potential for overcoming religious differences that contributed to earlier conflict (embodied in the metaphor of Hibua Lamo as a common “big house”), and were motivated by this hope. This version of adat has unifying aspirations which are variously cultural, political and religious in character, even as both politics and religion are seen by some of them as contentious and to be kept at arm’s length. It also implies a certain internal hierarchy, with shadowy internal historical subdivisions, which are the subject of some criticism. The opponents of the “Tobelo version” of adat emphasize and demand instead respect for the particularity of communities. There is a certain town-or Tobelo-centrism to the whole contention over the redevelopment of adat here. This is perhaps most conspicuously epitomized by the Hibua Lamo “big house” being located in a concentrated physical form, that is as a structure, in Tobelo town. Critics of the Tobelo version of adat see the wearing of traditional costumes as more demotic and equalizing. Overall, then, Müller’s paper exemplifies struggles in the renewal of adat and its implications.

47Moving to an organisational frame, Sanmukri explores how NGO activity supports the emergence of a recognizable indigenous sphere. She examines the relations of an NGO, Samdhana, to AMAN, as these emerge through Samdhana’s sectoral activities: principally ones to do with environmentalism and natural resource management. She argues that development organisations overtly operate in terms of very general and widely, including internationally, promulgated discursive concepts of participation, empowerment, etc., and measures to achieve these aims: official discourses and practices. But beneath the surface are a multiplicity of other-than-official discursive and practical tactics and aims, which have been characterized by strong orientations towards support for an indigenous constituency in the post-Suharto period. Within an organisation such as Samdhana are many national workers of activist formation and connection who operationalize the overt official programs in a variety of ways, introducing activist connections, dispositions, aims and modes of operation into their activities. At the same time, however, they are exposed to official discourses and practices, and may internalize some of these. Such organisations as Samdhana and AMAN bring together development workers and activists with diverse backgrounds and connections, some of whom are mobile between and among work venues; and there is some transfer of ways of thinking and operating among them. The paper mentions a persisting tension in the activities and relations between NGOs and AMAN: the assumption that indigenous communities are characterized by sustainable environmental practice, qualified however by a sense that there is a need to restore and revive these very practices. The paper provides some insight into how an indigenous sphere emerges in practice, despite the numerous complexities and ambiguities that continue to surround its identification as such.

48Bali, with its considerable self-consciousness of distinctive Hindu culture and practice (and also, earlier political marginalisation within the centralized Indonesian state), might seem like an obvious locale in which indigenous identity would be rapidly taken up at scale. But Hauser-Schäublin shows that this is hardly the case. There have been numerous recent modifications of notions of Balinese communal and provincial regulation, the latter (PERDA, Peraturan Daerah Provinsi Bali nomor 2001) practically underwriting a shared form of Hindu Balinese cultural citizenship, and creating the possibility, as Hauser-Schäublin suggests, of large-scale masyarakat adat community/ies. Yet few Balinese communities belong to AMAN, the major Indonesian indigenous organization; and the number of participating communities has in fact declined over recent years. Though Bali is largely Hindu, and Perda 03/2001 explicitly recognises this, the question of agama (religion) in its relation to adat does not seem to be a central issue in the apparent lack of Balinese uptake of AMAN and its activities. Though AMAN leaders have recognized kinds of Balinese pluralism, making distinctions among Bali Pesisir, Bali Mula and Bali Apanage communities (respectively, north coast with its multi-ethnic populations, Bali Aga or “animist” communities, and “mainstream” communities), AMAN simply does not appear to speak to some of the main concerns of Balinese, including deriving greater benefit from the central government, and furthering external connections and tourist potentials, among others. Nevertheless, AMAN seems to have some uptake, due to its offering a kind of positioning to some outside existing village socio-political structures. Insofar as it does, some AMAN representatives become caught up in some of the discussions which play out Indonesia-wide with respect to contemporary organizational representation and participation: how compatible is representation by women with adat on the one hand, and with democratization and social transformation on the other?

49The last two papers by Klenke and Thufail have in common that they deal with issues of social stratification in the context of indigenism. Klenke asks why Torajan elites were eager to claim indigenous identity. She answers this by neatly showing how possibilities of decentralization, tourism, and World Heritage nomination have all been folded into the reconsolidation by Torajan elites of noble hegemony as their particular version of revitalizing adat, and of assuming an indigenous identity, thus reinscribing social stratification and inequality “in a space in which it is assumed not to exist” (Klenke p. 20), namely, among indigenous peoples.

50Thufail, adopting from Ortner (1999) the figure of the “serious game” -- here of becoming aristocrats--shows how particular notions of adat are reworked to support the material and symbolic position of the nobility and the keraton, the palace, with illustrative examples from Java and other parts of Indonesia. While Indonesia’s nobility had a somewhat ambiguous status under the Dutch, and had to treat with the New Order to sustain the keraton, the recent period has opened up for them the possibility, and the necessity, of reaching out to a wider public not genealogically related to royal families, to shore up the position of the keraton materially and socially. Thufail effectively illustrates this by discussing the extension of noble titles to palace outsiders, including some of dubious reputation but a certain popular standing.

51In short, the last two papers focus on stratification in Indonesian societies, a bit of a renegade topic here in that “indigenous peoples” are generally understood as nonhierarchical, but an important dimension of the uptake of indigenist possibilities in Indonesia. The papers illustrate how adat is adapted to the purpose of sustaining hierarchical institutions in the hands of controlling persons whose positions are nonetheless unsettled and the nature of their political role considerably undermined by the state. Both state, and wider populace, nevertheless evidently continue to have a certain sense of investment in the cultural and social priorities of the nobility.

52Together, the papers illustrate a range of articulations in the present period. These involve the emergence and negotiation of indigenous identification, claims concerning adat, and often the issue of relation between these, in contestations over land, resources, environment, and socio-political position.

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