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Multiple Embeddedness and Systemic Implications: Struggles over Natural Resources in Minangkabau since the Reformasi

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This article deals with struggles over natural resources in West Sumatra, the homeland of the Minangkabau after the end of the Suharto regime in 1998. In these processes, actors often follow ambiguous strategies in pursuing their interests. We argue that these ambiguities to a large extent derive from a combination of factors: One is the multiple embeddedness of property rights at different layers of social organisations, in particular in social and general legal relationships. The second is the systemic implication of property rights in other domains of social organisation, for instance, authority and power relations. The third is the specific complexity and concomitant legal insecurity within plural legal orders. Actors who draw on rules from different legal orders — for designing regulations, for validating transactions, and for making decisions in disputes — have to deal with the problem that property relations are embedded differently in different legal orders and have different logics and systemic implications. This often leads actors to a strange combination of highly legalistic reasoning and a very pragmatic search for solutions.

Affiliations: 1: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle, Germany


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