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'Dayak, Wake Up': Land, Indigeneity, and Conflicting Ecologies in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

1 Introduction

Land governance and environmental management are pressing issues in today's Indonesia (McCarthy and Robinson 2016). The exploitation of natural resources and the capitalization of land have become rampant as a result of the increasing integration of globalized markets and this has found its expression in massive land subversions and the establishment of extractive and enclosed plantations. This is an era Donna Haraway (2015) calls the Capitalocene and Plantationocene. Thus, space is always connected to power and territorialization, and, as a political process, hegemony is materialized in space (Foucault 1992; Lefebvre 1991).

In Indonesia, most converted lands are classified as state-owned forest estates (kawasan hutan), which according to the Basic Forestry Law (BFL; hereafter Forestry Law) of 1967, (1) are under full control of the Kementerian Kehutanan (Ministry of Forestry) (2) of the national government. Large parts of this land are inhabited by ethnic groups who practise the so-called customary law, or adat, according to which land is controlled collectively. In Indonesia's development dictatorship under former president Soeharto (1967-1998), the state granted companies large-scale timber and mining concessions, thereby ignoring adat-based land use. The state thus dispossessed land from indigenous people and legitimized hegemony through codified state laws. Nevertheless, people have continued to follow adat law and access land for agriculture and foraging without formally owning it, which has led to massive conflicts over access and rights to land and natural resources.

In Central Kalimantan, mining is the predominant development strategy. Natural resource extraction, particularly in coal-mining, is still one of Indonesia's major foreign revenue sources (Devi and Prayogo 2013). According to the national Masterplan Percepatan dan Perluasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Indonesia (MP3EI, Masterplan for the Acceleration and Development of the Indonesian Economy) from 2011 to 2015, Kalimantan should be the 'center for production and processing of national mining and energy reserves' (Government of Indonesia 2011:96). Whereas East and South Kalimantan are already established mining areas, Central Kalimantan is the new frontier of coal production, and companies have extended their exploitation of the large, thermic coal deposits in the province's northern district Murung Raya. The mega mining project Adaro Met Coal, covering 350,000 hectares and including seven concessions, should deliver 20 million tons of coal in the next few years. However, the existing and planned mining sites in Murung Raya overlap with land inhabited by a number of ethnic groups, such as the Murung and Punan Murung, all subsumed under the term 'Dayak'; (3) thus, access and rights to land become increasingly contested.

Inclusions and exclusions related to space are connected to rights and access. According to Ribot and Peluso's (2003) theory of access, access is the 'ability to benefit from things--including material objects, persons, institutions, and symbols' (2003:154). The authors include a wide set of aspects and relationships that can enable or constrain people to gain, maintain, or control resources. Furthermore, access is tightly intertwined with power relations that people hold on to. In the analysis of the complex administration and use of land in Indonesia the concept of access is useful because it relates not only to rights and properties, but also to the ability and capacity of people to enforce control over land and resources. Ribot and Peluso provide a set of intertwined categories to map mechanisms that shape access, such as access to knowledge, capital, and authority; rights-based access; or access through social identity.

Access through indigenous identity and adat laws has been revitalized since the 2000s in the post-Soeharto Reformasi era. Ethnicity as strategic essentialism (Spivak 1988) is a central asset for improving the bargaining power in struggles over land and natural resources. Thus, strengthened by decentralization, which gives local communities and governments more authority and rights, ethnic groups formulate their awareness of cultural uniqueness in terms of increased self-identification as a political tool. Consequently, in struggles over land and natural resources, indigeneity has become a means to strengthen the access and rights of communities against state and corporate claims (Li 2000).

One example is the construction of a specific Dayak identity that is utilized for political mobilization. (4) Promoting a Dayak identity in relation to land rights, the Dayak farmers' organization Forum Koordinasi Kelompok Tani (F KKT) Dayak Misik Kalteng (Forum for the Coordination of Farmers in Central Kalimantan; hereafter FKKT Dayak Misik Kalteng, or FKKT), which was founded in 2014, orchestrates a programme in Central Kalimantan to enhance the land rights of 'indigenous Dayak' in the Dayak Misik (Dayak, wake up) scheme. It campaigns to ensure that Dayak obtain formal rights to land and forests to which they have access under adat law to prevent further licencing and expropriation by companies and the state.

Returning to what I call 'frontier ecologies', I describe how the members of the Murung ethnic group in the village of Tumbang Batubara, (5) who were confronted with increasing mining activities and diminishing access to land as a result of the Adaro Met Coal project, implemented the Dayak Misik scheme. By legally owning adat land and formalizing adat law, they hope to prevent further dispossession. However, not all Dayak groups have embraced the programme. To certify ownership of adat land in the Dayak Misik scheme, space is conceptualized in a specific way, similar to state territorialization, namely as land to be mapped and land borders to be fixed. This perception clashes with how members of the semi-nomadic Punan Murung interact with space, as they follow place-based, interrelated ecologies in which borders are flexible and dynamic. In addition, they feel they have been co-opted by dominant Dayak groups who are promoting the scheme to advance their political agenda, thereby essentializing 'Dayakness'.

I conceptualize ecologies as the networks of relationships between humans and non-humans (plants, spirits, excavators, and landscapes), which are constituted by specific conceptions of space, terms of engagement with the environment, and the materiality of natural resources, and are informed by diverse ontologies. I show that diverse ecologies conflict within a 'problem space' (Blaser 2013:552) when striving for hegemoniality, where access and control are contested. Moreover, frictions (Tsing 2005) arise when essentializations on ethnicity and constitutions of space are enforced. As for both Dayak groups, forested areas not only secure livelihoods but also have cultural and mythological importance, as they are the place where spirits dwell, ancestors settled, and forest products for ritual purposes are gathered. Thus, their access to, and terms of engagement (Ingold 2011) with, forested areas and their self-determination concerning the use of forest products are of the utmost importance to them.

With this article I contribute to the analysis of current adat-based movements against land conversion and dispossessions. Most scholars working in Indonesia analyse land conflicts between groups of indigenous people and companies or the state in terms of large-scale, agro-industry or resource exploitation (Beckert, Dittrich and Adiwibowo 2014; Pye and Bhattacharya 2013). Central in these studies are processes of exclusion, alienation, and expropriation in land and green grabs, orchestrated by state institutions and companies. This article not only considers struggles on land between Dayak people and the state/companies, but also draws attention to conflicts amongst members of the various ethnic groups, which have been subsumed under the term 'Dayak'. Furthermore, I show the tight entanglement between the Dayak organization and the provincial government, which was an important aspect in the establishment and promotion of the Dayak Misik scheme.

Struggles on adat land are often interlinked with different approaches to land. Whereas current studies mostly focus on the governance and control of land (McCarthy and Robinson 2016; Peluso and Lund 2011), exclusions by land conversions (Hall, Hirsch and Li 2011; Li 2014), and land-grabbing (White, Hall and Wolford 2012), aspects of 'indigenous' conceptions of land and space are neglected and only a subject of research studies conducted in the 1990s and 2000s (Dunlop 2009; Peluso 1996). Moreover, to my knowledge, studies on conflicting connotations of space and the changing status of adat land in interrelation with current establishments of indigenous land schemes in Indonesia do not exist. Applying the conceptual framework of conflicting ecologies, I therefore elaborate on different idioms and notions of land that are linked to diverse interests and power struggles regarding space, not only amongst the heterogeneous group of 'the Dayak' but also in relation to the national state. In sum, the article contributes to a critical discussion on the current hegemonial production of space, which excludes plural notions of land and indigenous identity.

After introducing the conflicting legal duality of state and adat laws on land in Indonesia, I will contrast different stances towards the Dayak Misik scheme based on diverse ecologies and on power dynamics between different Dayak groups in Murung Raya. I will analyse the legal foundation of the programme and the changing status of adat land and elaborate on the question of whether the scheme secures the access and rights to land of Dayak people and reduces conflicts.

I collected data for this article during five ethnographic fieldwork phases, for a total duration of ten months, from 2014 to 2018, in the regency (kabupaten) of Murung Raya. I lived with Punan Murung families in the district (kecamatan) of Uut Murung and in the regency capital Puruk Cahu, as well as with Murung families in the district of Muara Tuhup, which allowed me to conduct participant observation of everyday activities, working contexts, and rituals. Furthermore, I conducted focus group discussions with some Punan Murung and Murung, and semi-structured and narrative interviews with village representatives, about resource use, ecologies, and, specifically, the Dayak Misik scheme. I also conducted semi-structured interviews about the programme with members of the FKKT Dayak Misik Kalteng in the capital of Central Kalimantan province, Palangka Raya.

2 State Law Dominates over Adat Law

Throughout Indonesia, adat laws (6) (hukum adat) concerning land differ from region to region, and people and institutions define and apply adat laws in different ways (Barr et al. 2006). Nevertheless, the basis of adat laws is often not individual property but the legitimation for individuals, families, or communities to access and use certain areas of land for shorter periods. Collectively, adat-based owned land is regularly redistributed among community members under the supervision of adat leaders, and certain land rights can be inherited bilaterally.

2.1 Political Forests: Dispossession of Land

After Indonesia's independence in 1945, two coexisting legal orders regarding the control and administration of land were acknowledged and enacted, namely the codified state laws and the flexible adat laws. However, in most parts of the state's legal system, adat laws are acknowledged, but subordinated under codified state laws. Thus, the latter form the dominant legal basis in the control and administration of land and natural resources. Indonesia's Constitution of 1945, (7) for example, states in Article 33 that the state controls the country's land and natural resources, and that this land and these resources must be used for the maximum benefit of the Indonesian people. Furthermore, the Mining Law of 1967, (8) referring to the spirit of the Constitution, ascribed companies the rights to mine and sell the mining products, disregarding adat-based use and access to land and resources in concession areas. In reference to the Forestry Law of 1967,143 million hectares of the Indonesian territory, or approximately three-quarters of the nation's total land area, were classified as forest estate, which was under full control of the national government's Ministry of Forestry (Barr et al. 2006). In Central Kalimantan, during the New Order between 1966 and 1998, as much as 90 % of the total land area was declared as state forest (Gellert and Andiko 2015). The remaining 25% of non-forest land in Indonesia is subject to the Basic Agrarian Law (BAL; hereafter Agrarian Law) of 1960. (9) Article 5 of the Agrarian Law states that the Indonesian state recognizes adat-based land use, but only as long as it is not conflicting with national interests or other regulations set out in the Agrarian Law. In practice, during the New Order, adat-based use of land was disregarded and diminished as huge areas of timber, mining, and agricultural concessions were granted to commercial companies. Although the state did not formally 'own' the forest estate land, it held the exclusive authority over any of these territories, which Peluso and Vandergeest (2001) capture with the term 'political forests'. They are political in that since the colonial period, governments have dispossessed indigenous people of land using the enforcement of laws, technologies of territorialization, and zoning, and by criminalizing commonly accepted practices. Although adat laws are ignored in state laws, practise of the former is still widespread. Therefore, people access land without having formal land rights, which often leads to ambiguities and conflicts.

3 Reformasi Period: Strengthening of Local Governments, Communities, and Adat

In the Reformasi period, after the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998, far-reaching decentralization processes were implemented, which transferred administrative and regulatory authority from the national government to the provincial, regency, and district governments. A series of forestry sector reforms were adopted, which gave regency and district governments, as well as local communities, a greater role in forest management, thereby strengthening local governments but also leading to conflicts of law (Thorburn 2004; Barr and Resosudarmo 2002; Colfer and Resosudarmo 2002). Especially between 1999 and 2002, district officials immediately used their new authorities to issue large numbers of small-scale timber-extraction and forest-conversion permits, and to impose new types of fees and royalties on log-harvesting (McCarthy 2001a, 2001b). In addition, in the mining sector, local governments gained more authority, as according to the Law on Mineral and Coal Mining 4/2009, (10) which replaced the Mining Law of 1967, regency and district governments were legitimized to issue mining permits for mid- (up to 15,000 hectares) and small-sized land areas (up to 10 hectares). This resulted in a significant increase in the issuance of coal-mining permits.11 Mostly owing to corruption and nepotism, the authorities of regency and district governments were revoked with the new Law on Regional Autonomy 23/2014,12 and competences were shifted back to the provincial governments. Nevertheless, the permits were already granted, and conflicts arose because these permits often overlapped with concessions formerly issued by the national government, such as commercial forest concessions (Hak Pengusahaan Hutan), mining concessions in the framework of a contract of work (Kontrak Karya), or with national parks and conservation areas.

Small-scale timber, mining-extraction, and forest-conversion permits issued by local governments mostly require collaboration with local communities, or at least the approval of the village head or adat leaders. These permits often include cash payments from logging or mining companies based on the volume of exploited resources or compensation fees to communities living in and around their concession sites. In the mining sector, the operating companies are, according to the Mining Law 4/2009, obliged to define development activities for the neighbouring communities and assess the possible environmental impact (analisis mengenai dampak lingkungan, AMDAL). Generally, since the Reformasi, local communities have certainly gained more attention and monetary benefits from logging and mining than during the New Order, although more land has been converted and is under concession. However, the cash benefits for local communities are often not distributed equitably, and village elites have secured a disproportionate share of these benefits, as they act as brokers between villagers, companies, and the government (Moeliono, Wollenberg, and Limberg 2009; Barr et al. 2006).

The strengthening of Indonesian adat groups is strongly connected to global indigenous movements and new international agreements on the rights of indigenous peoples, and encourages the self-assertion of communities that have been oppressed under the New Order regime (Henley and Davidson 2007; Hauser-Schaublin 2013). In Indonesia, in 1999, the internationally funded organization Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN, Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago) was founded. It quite successfully supports adat communities (masyarakat adat) to claim adat lands (tanah adat) or adat regions (wilayah adat) based on their adat rights (Afiff and Lowe 2007; Li 2000, 2001, 2010; Moniaga 2007). Within the revitalization of indigeneity since the Reformasi period, adat has become a central leverage for communities in struggles over land and natural resources against state and corporate claims. One major issue is the recognition of a group as an adat law community, which is the precondition for claiming rights on adat land. However, as adat is extremely diverse in Indonesia and national laws describe no consistent process for the acknowledgement of adat communities, the criteria have to be defined more precisely by regulations on the provincial level. The provincial government in Central Kalimantan, however, is reluctant to advance the legal base for the acknowledgement of adat laws, because the strengthening of adat rights consequently reduces their territorial power.

Generally, the Law on Regional Autonomy 22/1999I (3) acknowledges local communities as legal bodies on the basis of origins, local customs, and traditions, and legitimizes them to govern and administer. The law also reorganizes the village administration and equips adat and peoples' representatives with more power (Tyson 2010). Meanwhile, the Forestry Law 41/1999 recognizes adat communities (masyarakat hukum adat) and adat forest, but under the premise that adat communities are acknowledged by the state; until 2015, only five adat groups gained such a status (Bedner 2016:72). The new Village Law 6/201414 implies the formation of adat villages and sets out requirements for its recognition. However, the criteria for the recognition of an adat law community in the new Village Law do not conform to other regulations and laws; thus, which regulation will be enforced in which setting is unclear (Bedner 2016:82). Once a community is recognized as an adat law community, it becomes eligible to apply for the establishment of an adat forest. The governor or district head (bupati) has to propose the establishment of an adat forest to the Ministry of Forestry. After approval, the adat community can apply for a licence of adat forest management, which enables them to collect forest products for their daily consumption and to carry out forest management according to their adat law, as long as it does not contradict the national law. However, vague formulations of laws and regulations, legal contradictions, and the unwillingness of ministers or local state officials make the whole process lengthy and complicated; thus, it is often avoided by communities.

Moreover, until 2013, adat forests were still 'owned' by the state, as the designated areas have been part of the state-owned forest estate (kawasan hutan). Thus, the state still had the authority to exploit natural resources in these areas if, according to the constitution, they served to benefit the Indonesian people. This clause was used to legitimize 'development projects', be they mining or logging. A legal breakthrough in equating adat law with state law was the revision of the Forestry Law in 2013. AMAN won a lawsuit requesting the Mahkamah Konstitusi (Constitutional Court) to review parts of the Forestry Law of 1999, giving indigenous communities the right for land-titling. The legal review states that adat forests are no longer categorized as part of state-owned forests (kawasan hutan) and therefore can be owned by indigenous communities (Rachman and Siscawati 2016; Steinebach and Kunz 2017). However, the implementation of the court's decision through local regulations is still lacking; the Ministry of Forestry and Environment is still in control of spatial planning and therefore can set limits on the use of adat land, and recognition as an adat law community must precede recognition of adat land (Bedner 2016:78). Therefore, up to 2017, President Joko Widodo had only announced recognition of the rights of 18 adat communities. (15)

Since the Reformasi period, the rights of local governments and adat communities have been strengthened mostly on paper, as the new laws contradict each other and state officials hinder their implementation. Thus, the hopes of indigenous groups for state support in terms of legal clarity and the enforcement of the law have not yet been fulfilled.

4 'Dayak, Wake Up': Enacting Adat-Based Claims on Land

In the course of the decentralization, Dayak organizations have been granted more authority and power (Haug, Rossler, and Grumblies 2017). Therefore, Dayak elites revitalized and constructed an indigenous identity to increase political and economic participation. On the basis of specific characteristics of their adat and with a view to the increasing recognition of adat laws, Dayak groups substantiate their claims for the restitution of their adat-based rights to land and natural resources.

In 2014, the FKKT Dayak Misik Kalteng, under the leadership of Siun Jarias, developed the Dayak Misik scheme. The organization uses the current window of opportunity for strengthening adat laws and promotes in an ethno-nationalist way the establishment of a common Dayak indigenous identity to enhance land rights. It operates in the framework of ethnic revitalization and indigenization, promoting a common Dayak indigenous identity and Dayak futures.

The idea of forming an organization to enhance the legal basis for claiming adat land came from a group of intellectuals in Palangka Raya who were working for universities, indigenous peoples' rights organizations, and the provincial government. One member of the initial group stated that many questions concerning the procedures of identifying and certifying adat land still remained unanswered until the creation of the FKKT Dayak Misik Kalteng by a small group led by Siun Jarias. All six founding members of the Forum were state officials, and Siun Jarias was a close confidant of the governor and served as general secretary of the provincial government (sekretaris daerah provinsi Kalimantan Tengah, Sekda) until 2016. Thus, they could use government resources to build infrastructures, knowledge, and networks for developing the scheme and disseminating information about the Dayak Misik scheme. Siun Jarias also stood for the position of governor in the 2016 election and used the scheme as evidence of his energetic engagement on behalf of indigenous Dayak. He also orchestrated a promotional tour for the Dayak Misik scheme throughout Central Kalimantan in the month before the election and linked the programme to his candidacy. Thus, the provincial state apparatus and the Dayak organization are intertwined in one entity, in which the state is aiming for modernization and the Dayak are defending traditional rights. However, the two sides penetrate, make use of, and influence each other. As persons simultaneously occupy positions on both sides and have dual functions, they use resources and arguments from both sides. Although, undoubtedly, Siun Jarias used the scheme for furthering his political career, he is also an enthusiastic supporter of Dayak rights, using Dayak Misik as his personal attempt to enhance the legal basis for adat land rather than just political calculation.

The Dayak Misik scheme addresses mainly farmers and aims at enlarging their possession of land. The FKKT speaks out against the national state, companies, and immigrants, as it wants to secure Dayak farmers' land rights, which are not recognized by state law, and against the takeover of land by migrants and foreign companies. The strategy is to obtain as much adat land as possible to prevent expropriation. Most of the adat land should be 'owned' by individuals (pemilik tanah adat). In practice, each farmer should receive a certificate for the possession of five hectares of land, which the farmer is forbidden to sell for 25 years. It is requested that the land should be cultivated or used to establish a business. The land may also include adat forest (hutan adat), which could be used for hunting, gathering, or spiritual purposes (Jarias n.d.).

As described earlier, adat land in Indonesia is usually not owned individually and certified by formal documents. However, under the aegis of the village elite and family heads, it is collectively administered and, based on verbal agreements, used or accessed by families or communities for shorter periods. Although members of the FKKT acknowledge the possibility of commonly administered land, the notion that land should be individually owned and used for agriculture or business activities dominates. Thus, the Dayak organization's perception of land is similar to that of the national state, following the idea of land having clear boundaries and being owned by the state, companies, or individuals.

4.1 'Dayak, Wake Up' in Muara Tuhup

The village Tumbang Batubara in the district Muara Tuhup can be reached after a five-hour drive by car or boat from the regency capital, Puruk Cahu. Most of the 700 villagers claim to belong to the sedentary ethnic group of the Murung. For decades, coal has been mined in open pit sites in the area, and currently villagers are confronted with the extension of coal extraction in the course of the mega mining project Adaro Met Coal. The provincial and national government units are supporting the Adaro Met Coal project, as they expect it to strengthen the province's economic development.

4.1.1 Frontier Ecologies

Ecologies are understood as relationships between humans and non-humans, which are constituted by different notions of space, including material aspects of the environment, and are intertwined with multi-focal power relations and informed by diverse ontologies. Thus, I combine and extend conceptual approaches of political ecology with ontology and link this to Mario Blaser's concept of political ontologies, in which he merges classical aspects of political ecology with approaches of multiple ontologies (Blaser 2013). I also refer to recent works in the field of political ecology, which focus not only on power, conflict, access, and control in environmental struggles but also on the materiality of the landscape and natural resources, as well as socio-natural histories (Li 2014; Peluso 2012; Harcourt 2017). According to Nevins and Peluso (2008), the changing socio-natures, the relation between the societal and the environmental dimension, of Southeast Asia can be seen as a result of successive commoditization processes and the entailed transformation of mutual relations between nature, people, and places. Therefore, I argue that nature is always produced and bound up with power regimes that are formed in a specific political, economic, technological, and cultural context. Ontologically inclined research stresses alternative, indigenous conceptualizations of human/nature relations and 'the environment' (Viveiros de Castro 1998). In Blaser's understanding, ontologies 'perform themselves into worlds' (2009:877) and are a form of enacting a reality (Blaser 2013:552). Political ontology, by combining the two conceptual approaches, thus includes, according to Blaser (2009), firstly, the politics involved in the practices that shape a particular world or ontology and, secondly, the conflicts which result from the interaction of different worlds when striving for hegemony and dominance. Thus, when diverse worlds--or ecologies, in the case of this study--interact, conflicts may arise about diverse assumptions on what exists (Blaser 2013) and about access and control, which result in a 'problem space' (Blaser 2013:552) where 'hegemoniality' is enacted. Hegemoniality, therefore, is connected to the different abilities and capacities of people to gain control, which is framed and constituted by different ecologies, that is, the different ways in which humans and non-humans relate. I, thus, contrast the following diverse ecologies, which are constituted by different notions and control of land, that form the problem space of the Dayak Misik programme.

Frontier ecologies in Tumbang Batubara are engravd by decade-long, large-scale coal extraction. The term 'frontier' relates to the concepts of Fold and Hirsch (2009), as well as those of Peluso and Lund (2011), who conceptualized frontiers as state territorialization projects and a 'space of multifaceted development trajectories' (Fold and Hirsch 2009:95). Most villagers in Tumbang Batubara live in a patron-client relationship with the operating coal-mining companies. The company, as a patron, provides income opportunities, village infrastructure, and personal support for life-cycle events in the form of corporate social responsibility programmes. Requests made of the company by village representatives concern basic village infrastructure, which is not provided by the dysfunctional state institutions, such as a piping system for clean water, an asphalted school courtyard, and medical supplies. Villagers as clients are exposed to increasing levels of river, land, and air pollution, and destructive exploitation. However, most villagers accept or even support ongoing expropriation by the operating mining companies.

Most of the land close to the village is leased by the company, and only a few small plots can be used by villagers for practising small-scale agriculture of rice, rubber, vegetables, and fruits. This land is squeezed in between extraction sites, roads, and settlement areas; thus, the borders are quite clear. The majority of the Murung living in Tumbang Batubara are descendants of one family and share the available land close to the village amongst themselves according to need and status. Thus, the legitimacy of their access to land for agriculture is either inherited or acquired from their specific family, with the agreement of the village elite. If villagers want to practise the shifting cultivation of rice, for which they need larger plots of land, they open swidden fields in the sparsely populated area north of Murung Raya, approximately a five-hour drive away from Tumbang Batubara.

Villagers ascribe cultural and economic importance to the forested area near the river Sirat, (16) a two-hour boat drive away from Tumbang Batubara, which they claim to be ancestral land that is important for sustaining their livelihoods. Villagers hunt and gather forest products for food, medical purposes, and rituals in this area. In contrast to the bounded, relatively small plots of land available for small-scale agriculture close to the village, the forested area had, until it was mapped as part of the Dayak Misik programme, no fixed boundaries and was accessible to all villagers. Parts of the forested area overlap with the concession area of the Adaro Met Coal project. In 2013, problems occurred as members of the village elite leased 50 hectares of ancestral land to the mining company for a price far below the market value. This land lease remains a scandal amongst the villagers, as the village representatives who were responsible were bribed by the mining company. Though they were imprisoned for two weeks, they are now, once again, occupying relevant positions among the village elite. Thus, as described earlier, the members of the village elite disproportionally benefited in the wake of the decentralization.

The main feature of the Murung's frontier ecologies in Tumbang Batubara is the landscapes in which the power relations of socio-natural histories of large-scale coal extraction are inscribed. These ecologies are constituted by dysfunctional state structures, corrupt members of the village elite, and patron-client relationships with the mining companies, which provide but also destroy livelihoods. Murung's terms of engagement with their environment include increasing pollution and degradation, as well as diminished access to ancestral land along the Sirat river, which has economic and cultural significance.

4.1.2 Dayak Misik as Hope to Counter Expropriation

On their promotional tour for the Dayak Misik scheme in Murung Raya, members of the FKKT also visited Tumbang Batubara. The adat village leader (kepala adat) and the villagers' representative (Badan Perwakilan Desa, BPD) in Tumbang Batubara, together with representatives of the organization, implemented the scheme in the forested area around the Sirat river, with the hope of preventing further expansion of the coal exploitation and thus expropriation. Representatives of the organization recommended including the 50-hectare ancestral land that overlaps with the concession area of the Adaro Met Coal project, although villagers and members of the organization knew that the company had already leased the land.

The villagers' representative, villagers, and representatives of the organization took GPS data and developed a map establishing two types of land-use schemes: the Tanah Adat Dayak Misik Muara Tumbang Batubara (Dayak Misik Adat Land of Tumbang Batubara), which comprises 1,128 hectares, and the land of the Kelompok Tani Dayak Misik Muara Tumbang Batubara (Dayak Misik Farmers Group of Tumbang Batubara), which comprises 1,150 hectares. Thus, the adat land authenticated in the Dayak Misik scheme is comprised not only of community land but also of individually owned land. Therefore, the status of the previous adat land has been changed in the course of the establishment of the programme, as parts of the adat land, which was not formally private property, are now owned by individuals. This change in the notion of adat land, which is no longer administered by members of the community on the basis of oral agreements, shows an increasing adaptation to the hegemonial perception of land enforced by the national state. Moreover, the Dayak Misik map shows the two land plots as two rectangles with straight borderlines, one along each bank of the river Sirat. The farming land plot again consists of smaller rectangles, which are intended to delineate the individual plots of land owned by each farmer. Whereas borders of adat lands often run along geographical markers, such as rivers or mountain ranges, the borderlines of both land plots obviously do not recognize the physical geography of the forested and hilly areas. Therefore, the map could be seen as having a rather symbolic character, as it seems to have been artificially drawn and does not follow small river courses or hill ranges.

Although the status of the adat land has changed and the map has a rather symbolic character, the villagers who joined the scheme had placed great faith in it. They explained to me that the Dayak Misik scheme refers to ideas and systems of land use that have been practised by villagers in that area for a long time, but which have not yet been authenticated (bukti belum ada) and codified. Another villager explained that they will still be able to hunt and gather forest products in the newly established adat forest for their livelihood and for ritual purposes, and additionally own the land. The adat leader of Tumbang Batubara was enthusiastic about the Dayak Misik scheme and glad that the villagers are conscious about the possibilities that the adat law offers (sadar hukum adat). He expects that the adat land will be secured from dispossession by mining companies.

4.1.3 Adat Land Ownership Letter (SKTA)

The land of the farmers group in the Dayak Misik scheme is certified via an individual adat land clarification letter (Surat Keterangan Tanah Adat, SKTA). Around 100 SKTAs, which state the ownership of five hectares of land under the Dayak Misik scheme, have already been sold to villagers. The legal basis for the SKTA is derived from the Governor's Regulation 13/2009I (7) on adat land rights. According to the regulation, the SKTA certificates should take stock of existing adat land, acknowledge and secure adat rights on adat land of adat communities, and prevent the expropriation of land by companies and the state in the future. All members of adat communities in Central Kalimantan (masyarakat adat Kalimantan Tengah) (18) are legitimized to obtain this clarification certificate, which is issued by the adat leader (damang kepala adat) at the sub-district level (kecamatan).

Since the implementation of the provincial regulations and the wave of SKTA issuances, much confusion and criticism have emerged. One main point of critique concerns questions on the compliance with national laws. To weaken arguments of legal contradictions, the Governor Regulation 13/2009 refers to the Agrarian Law of 1960, as it states in Article 5 that 'the agrarian law applies to soil, water, and air, which also follows adat law as long as it does not contradict the national and the State interests, based on the nation's unity with Indonesian socialism, and also the other regulations within this Act and other legal regulations, all in respect to religious laws'. (19) Therefore, adat communities are theoretically permitted to obtain legal rights to land subject to the Agrarian Law, as long as this does not conflict with state interests. Since 2013, adat land within forested area subject to the Forest Law could theoretically also be owned by adat communities, but this was not included in the 2009 regulation. Another point of discussion is whether the local government (pemerintahan daerah) is legitimized to issue adat land certificates without the acknowledgment of the Forestry Ministry. According to Article 12, verse 2 of the Law on Regional Autonomy 23/2014, the local government is legitimized to stipulate adat land or land of avail (penetapan tanah ulayat). However, whether that means that local governments are authorized to issue land titles, or only to identify adat land and propose its acknowledgment to the Ministry of Forestry, as stated in the Forestry Law of 1999, is unclear (Setiawan 2017). Another question is whether the adat leader at the sub-district level is authorized to issue an SKTA. Generally, the land certification letter (Surat Keterangan Tanah, SKT) is issued by the village head. (20) Setiawan argues that the adat leader is not legitimized to issue an SKTA, and if he or she does so, the certificate is not legally binding (Setiawan 2017). However, the Law on Regional Autonomy 22/1999 acknowledges local adat communities as legal bodies, gives them the legitimacy to administer, and equips adat representatives with more authority. Another question is the legal status of the land clarification letter, as it serves only to indicate the status of a certain plot of land, who may access it, and whether it is already under concession or under a title. Therefore, it is neither a licence nor an ownership certificate. Although an SKT will not be a legal guarantee for land rights, it nevertheless may provide tenure security, often in combination with the payment of land and building tax (Pajak Bumi dan Bangunan, PBB), and tenure security against dispossession (Bedner 2016:67).

Aside from the criticism, lack of clarity, and legal uncertainty, politicians, representatives of adat organizations, and villagers in Central Kalimantan have used the legal vacuum and the increasing opportunities of strengthened adat elites since the Reformasi period to issue regulations to promote and increase adat rights and, thereby, secure and enhance access and rights to land. Even if the SKTA does not secure land ownership, it could empower adat communities in their struggle for claims to land and natural resources. These certificates might not be acknowledged in court as a proof of rights to land but may serve, potentially, as a proof of right of access to the land according to non-codified adat law and hence might strengthen the bargaining power of adat communities.

The first setback after the implementation of the Dayak Misik scheme in Tumbang Batubara occurred in 2017, when the mining company started to extract coal in the above-mentioned area of 50 hectares. Furthermore, the company prohibits villagers from entering the area; thus, Murung currently faces an increasing loss of access to ancestral land. Villagers hoped that they could secure access to the contested area of 50 hectares with the subsequent implementation of the scheme; with that aim in mind, the village head sent a letter to the mining company in February 2018, in which he explained the land claims in the framework of the Dayak Misik programme and asked for a meeting to settle the conflict. However, as recently as May 2018, the company had continued to ignore the request. As the land was leased to the company in 2013, the legal situation is weak and villagers are hesitant about bringing the case to court.

4.2 'Dayak--Already Awakened'in UutMurung

Representatives of the FKKT also visited villages in the northern part of the most northern sub-district Uut Murung in their promotional tour for the Dayak Misik scheme. These villages are situated in a very remote, densely forested area along the upper Barito river in the conservation area of the Heart of Borneo (HoB). The HoB was established in 2007 on the basis of an agreement between the neighbouring countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei to use the area sustainably; the agreement was initiated, supported, and coordinated by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the world's largest conservation organization. In that area, about 10 kilometres away from the villages, some large-scale logging and mining companies operate and provide wage labour to some villagers.

Most of the villagers describe themselves as members of the ethnic group of Punan Murung. The term 'Punan' or 'Penan' generally refers to forest-dwelling, hunting-and-gathering, nomadic or formerly nomadic groups living predominantly in the interior part of Borneo. Today, the livelihood strategy of the Punan Murung in those villages follows what Christian Gonner (2001:171) calls 'extended subsistence', or what Michael Dove (2011) describes as a 'dual' or 'composite economy'. Villagers practise small-scale agriculture, hunting, and fishing, and engage in wage labour at the nearby logging or mining companies according to their needs and opportunities (Hoing et al. 2015a, 2015b). In addition, they gather and trade non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as gemstones, animal parts, and bird's nests; engage in small-scale gold-mining; and collect and trade gaharu.

Villagers emphasize, in the framework of revitalized indigeneity, the importance of being content and their pride in living close to nature and far away from towns. This increasing cultural reflexivity is embedded in the process of the changing identity formation from discriminating against formerly 'underdeveloped savages' during the New Order towards the still marginalized but nevertheless content, close-to-nature indigenous semi-nomads. (21) The Punan Murung have constructed and practise a positively framed nomadic indigenous identity comprising a close-to-nature and flexible lifestyle, one which contrasts with that of people who do not live in a remote area.

Parts of the concessions of the Adaro Met Coal project in the north of Murung Raya overlap with the forested areas close to the villages in the HoB, therefore endangering the high levels of biodiversity, water reservoirs, and livelihoods of the people living in the area. Due to the mining company pushing for the extraction of coal in recent years, villagers have reported that explorations for coal deposits have taken place in the areas around the villages, but that coal extraction has not started yet.

4.2.1 Place-based, Interrelated Ecologies

For the Punan Murung, the spatial dimensions of the surrounding area consist of rivers, settlements, plots for shifting cultivation, areas for hunting and gathering, and mining or logging sites. Densely forested areas serve as water reservoirs and grounds for gathering trade products and plants for medical and ritual purposes, and for hunting. These areas are not only places where livelihoods are sustained, but also where spirits dwell. The Punan Murung's ecologies include overlapping spaces of settlement, travel route, spirit dwelling, and concessions, and areas used for hunting and gathering. These spaces are formed and altered through interaction with the environment. I link place-based Punan Murung's ecologies to Nurit Bird-David's (1992:28) concept of the 'cosmic economy of sharing', where she describes that 'immediate-return' (Woodburn 1982:432) hunter-gatherers link their material needs to the means available for sharing. According to this relational ecology, hunter-gatherers among them the Punan Murung understand and enact the relationship between humans and non-humans as being a network of taking and giving, in which humans want a 'share of however much is available' (Bird-David 1992:32), with gaharu as an example.

4.2.2 Maps and Fixed Borders Create Conflicts

The Punan Murung perceive the space around them as being flexible and relational--an area in which few fixed borders exist; therefore, territoriality and boundaries are not static, but fluid and negotiable. The access to certain areas for swidden agriculture is negotiated within the community and is dependent on the social status and economic needs of the person or family, and the current usage of that particular area. The collection of forest products and the cutting down of small trees for firewood are generally open to everyone. Cutting down bigger trees for building houses has to be discussed with other community members, who might also have a claim to these trees. In addition, non-territorial claims exist, including those for trees where honeybees build nests. These trees are maintained, and the honey is harvested by individuals.

Village territories and boundaries have not been mapped and fixed, as these were neither necessary nor problematic until recently, because villagers used the area flexibly without conflict. In Indonesia, these territories had not been systematically mapped previously. The earliest maps were produced in the 1980s, but these often did not correlate with river courses, positions of villages, and roads on the ground. Nevertheless, these maps formed the basis used by the state and companies to define borders and the status of the land and thus for the issuing of concessions. Since the 2000s, a new awareness of territories has been awakened in Indonesia because of increasing land scarcity, the opportunity for local governments and communities to increase their authority and control over land, and the monetary value given to land and natural resources. Therefore, the provincial and district government units pushed the village leaders to map their village territories and provide GPS data concerning the border between the settlements. The criteria were current land use, borders drawn by the colonial administration, and reference to ancestral land. Problems occurred with regard to a forested area around one tributary of the upper Barito river, as the village elite of two villages claim that territory. Villagers fear that their access to that area, which is considered to be important for hunting and gathering, will be restricted once boundaries are fixed. Moreover, villagers have great expectations with regard to the potential of the natural resources, such as gold, precious stones, and coal, in that area. If companies extract resources in the future, the relevant village will have a legitimate claim to compensation, and neither of the two villages wants to lose this opportunity. If the borders are not clear, both villages usually receive compensation payments from the companies involved. As neither the regency or district government nor environmental organizations have been able to initiate and mediate negotiations on mapping in which both sides are included, the dispute remains unsettled.

Furthermore, the mapping process created conflicts and mistrust amongst the villagers (on unintended impacts of participatory mapping processes, see also Deddy 2006). This example shows that through fixing clear boundaries, dynamic spatial processes are frozen and overlapping responsibilities, such as adat-based and national rights, could trigger tensions among communities (see also Hein and Faust 2014).

4.2.3 Dayak Misik as Politicizing Adat

The Punan Murung oppose the Dayak Misik scheme, arguing that they use the forested area flexibly and borders between the villages are still unclear. Therefore, villagers could not claim a certain area as adat land under the Dayak Misik scheme, because it is not clear to which village the area actually belongs. Therefore, even more conflicts amongst villagers could occur, as inhabitants of different villages might claim the same land as their adat land, just as in the case of the unclear village border. As a consequence, conflicts will occur not only between villagers, the state, and companies, but also amongst villagers themselves, which will, subsequently, intensify conflicts in that area.

Moreover, most Punan Murung prefer gathering plants, fruits, and NTFP; fishing; and hunting, and enact a strong identity as semi-nomadic people in contrast to engaging in agriculture. Thus, most argue that they do not need five hectares of land for agriculture as suggested in the Dayak Misik scheme.

Another point of criticism of the Dayak Misik scheme by the Punan Murung is the top-down implementation. Some Punan Murung fear co-optation by dominant Dayak groups and argue that Siun Jarias and the FKKT politicize ethnicity and utilize villagers for their own interests. As described earlier, Siun Jarias was not only the head of the organization, but also the general secretary of the provincial government (Sekda) until 2016 and stood for the position of governor in the 2016 election. His dual function and proximity to the provincial state apparatus and the linkage of the scheme to his candidacy evoked anti-state-like sentiments. One Punan Murung stated, 'We have been awake for years and are not dependent on him.'

5 Exclusions of Either People or Plurality

Regional autonomy and ethnic revitalization enhance the likelihood of adat law becoming formalized and thus offer the possibility for indigenous people to increase control of access to land on the basis of adat-based identity, rights, and authority. As the enforcement of the Constitutional Court's decision is slow and the procedures for establishing adat forest on the basis of national law are complex, contradictory, and do not favour adat communities, the governor of Central Kalimantan and the FKKT have issued regulations and implemented programmes to push through the legal basis for claiming adat land.

Defining and certifying adat territories that are fixed on maps and privately owned under the Dayak Misik scheme may empower the Murung in Tumbang Batubara and may serve as a tool for securing and legitimizing uncodified claims and control over that territory in the future. With regard to frontier ecologies that are constituted by the socio-historical landscape of an increase in coal-mining, which creates and destroys livelihoods as well as diminishing access to ancestral land, the Murung feel urged to secure their access to land and have placed a lot of faith in the Dayak Misik scheme. Although the status of parts of the adat land has been changed from land with no fixed borders to bounded land and has been administered by members of the community, moving it towards mapped and individually owned, codified land, the Murung have responded positively to the scheme and embraced what they perceive to be a window of opportunity. Thus, the Murung who are participating in the scheme do not perceive the changed notion and status of the more remote adat land as problematic, because all of the land close to the village has clear boundaries and is leased by an individual or a company. Although the maps produced in the course of the Dayak Misik programme are rather symbolic, despite the major setback regarding the mining company's activities on ancestral land and notwithstanding the fact that the SKTA does not legally guarantee land ownership, villagers in Tumbang Batubara hope that they will secure rights and access to at least small, bounded parts of land for hunting, gathering, and ritual purposes. However, owing to the patron-client relationships with the companies, corruption, and dysfunctional state structures, villagers' abilities and capacities to secure control over land are still limited. Whether their faith is well-founded and whether the Dayak Misik programme, as one example of the many current adat-based counter-movements, will increase access to and control of adat land in the future is still an open question.

The Dayak Misik scheme presupposes clear territorial boundaries, which stands in contrast to most Punan Murung's 'terms of engagement' with forested areas, that is, their dynamic approach to space and ownership. Fixing borders on maps is not how most Punan Murung negotiate claims to territoriality and non-territorial resources, and in contrast to the frontier ecologies of the Murung in Tumbang Batubara, the place-based ecologies of the Punan Murung are not reflected in the scheme. As a result, conflicts between representatives of the FKKT and the Punan Murung have arisen in a 'problem space' due to their differing assumptions about space, representation, and justice.

Moreover, the Dayak Misik scheme is promoted and backed by the provincial government. The head of the FKKT is the former general secretary, and the individual SKTA is based on the Governor's Regulation 13/2009. Thus, the formation of formally acknowledged adat territories in the scheme is connected to the power exerted by a hegemonial Dayak group that aims to push through their concept of adat identity and adat land, striving to 'fulfil universal dreams and schemes' (Tsing 2005:1). Consequently, diverse adat-based approaches are absorbed within the national legal system, losing their plurality, flexibility, and relationality. Since the onset of decentralization, local boundaries have been drawn arbitrarily to allow the extraction of valuable resources (Anau et al. 2002). Mapping and certifying land confers the danger that experts with access to information, technical knowledge, and authority will dominate. In what Tania Murray Li (2007) call a 'regime of exclusion', dominant actors rearrange people and resources to enhance their own privileges.

The requirement to produce fixed borders, zones, usage regulations, and private property in the Dayak Misik scheme as a means to assert rights and access and as a condition for legal acknowledgement could lead to severe conflicts amongst the Punan Murung, as the example of the border-making process between two villages has shown. The hierarchization of certain ecologies, intertwined with epistemological and political powers, which perceive and practise land as bounded and borders as fixed, leads to exclusions of either people or plurality. Thus, most Punan Murung feel that they are faced with a dilemma. If they want to benefit from access due to their indigenous identity and legally want to secure rights to land, they must adapt to the ongoing hegemonic certification schemes, be it with respect to the implementation of adat-based counter-measures against large-scale land grabs, such as the Dayak Misik programme, or state-orchestrated social forestry schemes. However, if they obey, they fix borders that do not mirror their place-based, interrelated ecologies, which may then trigger conflicts amongst the Punan Murung in the future. Currently, the Punan Murung oppose the Dayak Misik scheme and thereby reject the shift to a formalized and individualized perspective of land ownership. However, if access to land is increasingly diminished through the expansion of mining activities, conflicts over land and natural resources will become unavoidable in the future. Therefore, stability within the community and equity in resource allocation should be the aims, to be achieved by all sides.


I would like to thank the Murung and Punan Murung families who welcomed me and gave me the opportunity to gain insights into their lives. I also thank the members of the academic network Contested Plural Ecologies: Anthropological Perspectives on Southeast Asia, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), and Christina Schwenkel as well as Andrew A. Johnson for their valuable feedback on earlier versions of this article.


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Kristina Gro[sz]mann

University of Passau, Germany

DOI: 10.1163/22134379-17501021

(1) Undang-Undang Pokok Kehutanan 5/1967.

(2) In 2015 the Ministry of Forestry has merged with the Ministry of Environment to one mega-ministry, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

(3) The term Dayak refers to the heterogeneous population of non-Muslim or non-Malay natives of the island of Borneo (Sellato and Sercombe 2007).

(4) McCarthy 2004; Schiller 2007; Van Klinken 2006; Duile 2017.

(5) The name of the village has been changed.

(6) Van Vollenhoven avoided the term 'customary law', using 'adat law' instead, as for him customs, which means the continuity of local legal tradition, were not the defining characteristics of adat law. In addition, customary law is usually defined and validated by a legislator, which is not always the case in Indonesia. Instead, Van Vollenhoven used the term 'adat law', which he characterized as a dynamic and flexible 'folk law' (volksrecht) or 'living law' (levendrecht), thereby stressing its plural nature (see Von Benda-Beckmann and Von Benda-Beckmann 2011). Following his argumentation, I also use 'adat law' in order to acknowledge its flexibility and relationality.

(7) Undang-Undang Dasar 1945.

(8) Undang-Undang Ketentuan-Ketentuan Pokok Pertambangan 11/1967.

(9) Undang-Undang Pokok Agraria 5/1960.

(10) Undang-Undang 4/2009 Tentang Pertambangan Mineral dan Batubara.

(11) Down to Earth (2010), 'Indonesia's coal: Local impacts--global links', (accessed 1-1-2018).

(12) Undang-Undang 23/2014 Tentang Pemerintahan Daerah.

(13) Undang-Undang 22/1999 Tentang Pemerintahan Daerah.

(14) Undang-Undang 6/2014 Tentang Desa.

(15) Mongabay, 'Jokowi grants first-ever indigenous land rights to 9 communities', 4-1-2017); Basten Gokkon, 'Indonesian president recognizes land rights of nine more indigenous groups. Mongabay', 1-1-2018).

(16) The name of river has been changed.

(17) Peraturan Gubernur No. 13 Tahun 2009 tentang Tanah Adat dan Hak-Hak Adat di atas Tanah di Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah and the revised Regulation 4/2012 (Peraturan Gubernur Kalimantan Tengah No. 4 Tahun 2012 tentang Perubahan atas Peraturan Gubernur Kalimantan Tengah No. 13 Tahun 2009 tentang Tanah Adat dan Hak-Hak Adat di atas Tanah di Provinsi Kalimantan Tengah).

(18) Article 1, paragraph 37 of the regulation 16/2008 defines Dayak adat communities (masyarakat adat Dayak) as all people who descend from Dayak groups (keturunan suku Dayak) and whose life and culture mirrors local wisdom by referring to customs (kebiasaan), adat (adat istiadat), and adat law.

(19) Article 5 of the Agrarian Law: 'Hukum agraria yang berlaku atas bumi, air dan ruang angkasa ialah hukum adat, sepanjang tidak bertentangan dengan kepentingan nasional dan Negara, yang berdasarkan atas persatuan bangsa, dengan sosialisme Indonesia serta dengan peraturan peraturan yang tercantum dalam Undang-undang ini dan dengan peraturan perundangan lainnya, segala sesuatu dengan mengindahkan unsur-unsur yang bersandar pada hukum agama.'

(20) According to Article 24 of the Government Regulation 24/1997 on Land Certification (Peraturan Pemerintah No. 24 Tahun 1997 tentang Pendaftaran Tanah, SKT).

(21) During the authoritarian, developmentalist regime under the former president Soeharto ethnicity was abolished from public and political discourses and highly instrumentalized by the state. Being a Punan or Dayak had derogatory connotations connected with living in a remote area (suku terasing) and being underdeveloped, backward, and primitive, and was therefore subject to discriminatory and paternalistic development programmes (Sellato and Sercombe 2007:32-3; Duncan 2007; Li 1999).
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Author:Gro[sz]mann, Kristina
Publication:Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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