Political visibility in struggles for coastal land control in rural Langkat, Indonesia

Pinto, Ruth (2022) Political visibility in struggles for coastal land control in rural Langkat, Indonesia. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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State efforts to devolve resource control are often aimed at enabling more equitable and locally responsive forms of development. This thesis provides a relational analysis of how opportunities for more devolved land control are being seized and negotiated by different actors in two coastal villages of Langkat. It explores how and why residents, and a multitude of state and non-state institutions, participate in processes of devolving land control, and the material and relational consequences for coastal residents. The thesis relies on an exploratory, situational analysis approach, drawing on 126 interviews, observations and document analysis to explore these different actors’ perspectives and practices.

Developing the concept of political visibility – to be seen favourably by institutions with public or political authority – this research makes three interrelated arguments. Firstly, it demonstrates how a desire for political visibility can play a critical role in determining the success of residents’ land control practices and strategies. Secondly, by analysing how institutions consider the coast and its residents’ appeals to power, the thesis establishes the relational and performative nature of political visibility, particularly with respect to the (re)production of authority. Finally, it demonstrates how practices of political visibility are not only appeals to power but also acts of power that are reliant on various structural, material and relational factors. Within these two villages, access to political visibility, as well as its material and relational consequences, is therefore uneven. Prioritising the perspectives of rural, coastal residents, the concept of political visibility enables a more nuanced understanding of how relations with the state and other powerful institutions, alongside intra-village dynamics, can influence processes of devolution, authority and land control.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2023 08:11
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2023 08:11
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/92996


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