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Borders and Insecurities in Western Flores

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Contesting Territory on the Margins of the State

image of Asian Journal of Social Science

Creating and guarding boundaries is one of the pervasive features of modern states. Many boundaries have been contested in the Southeast Asian region between states, and boundaries are always locations of great insecurity for states, and for the people who live on them. The case to be explored in this paper is about boundaries that are not international, but local boundaries between districts within the nation state of Indonesia, in the eastern region of western Flores. The years of political change in Indonesia have created considerable attention to the creation of new boundaries, with the “pemekaran”, or “flowering” of new districts. This has caused the revival of concern over the actual boundaries of western Flores districts, resulting in various extreme instances of boundary contestation and protection. One contestation revived a much older dispute of the eastern boundary of the western Flores district of Manggarai, which dates from the time of the beginning of the Indonesian modern state. In this paper it will be queried what makes internal, domestic boundaries important, including how they are complicated by issues of ethnicity, foreign investment in natural resources, and religion, all of which can create considerable insecurity for the local communities who live near and on these contested borders.

Affiliations: 1: National University of Singapore


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