Indigeneity in Indonesia

There is an interesting special issue on the subject of land rights, indigenous peoples and development in Indonesia published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. The issue addresses, amongst others, that the manifestation of indigenous ‘adat’ politics is no longer confined to the national struggle for the recognition of land rights, but instead, has proliferated into many localized short term ‘adat projects’.

Some of the articles are:

CfP: Global Human Rights at Risk?  Challenges, Prospects, and Reforms

Call for Papers: Global Human Rights at Risk?  Challenges, Prospects, and Reforms

6th and 7th June 2019

The Hague, Netherlands (Campus Den Haag of Leiden University)

Abstract Submission Deadline: November 15, 2018 (17:00, CET)


This multidisciplinary conference aims to analyze the causes and consequences of various contemporary challenges to international human rights and emancipatory politics. First, the seminar examines whether, and if so, how the apparently declining influence of the West, the rise of authoritarianism, and increasing material inequality within and between nations could impact the legitimacy and effectiveness of international human rights. Second, the seminar invites new and radical perspectives that aim to reinvent the future of transnational human rights norms and human dignity — its substantive content, ethical assumptions, as well as its representative global and national institutions. Third, the seminar brings together leading and promising scholars in conversation with human rights practitioners in an effort to bring a dynamic and fruitful debate that bridges theory and practice. We hope to be able to attract paper presenters from a diverse set of expertise and professional experience on human rights — ranging from the humanities, social sciences, and human rights practice. We welcome paper proposals that reflect a wide variety of perspectives on human rights scholarship and practice, especially those that deal with theoretical and practical issues about human rights in the Global South. The following key questions represent some but not all of the puzzles that we seek to address:

    • What are the key limitations and milestones of post-Second World War international human rights norms — particularly in terms of its conceptual basis, historical appreciation, and normative underpinnings? In what ways could those limitations be remedied? In what ways could the milestones and strengths of the global human rights regime be reinforced?
    • What are the plausible causes of the rise of illiberal and authoritarian discourses and movements in global politics? How and in what ways do these discourses and challenges relate to international human rights norms?
    • Does the contemporary international human rights regime need a radical reform? If so, what constitutes radical reform?

While this conference welcomes paper proposals that are relevant to those aforementioned themes, the panel particularly also encourages contributions that address the following topics, with a particular focus on the Global South (country case studies, regional focus, or transnational overview):

    • Causes and consequences of the rise of authoritarianism
    • State repression: extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances
    • Transnational human rights activism: strategies and challenges
    • Global South contributions to the formation of the global human rights regime
    • Effectiveness and legitimacy of national human rights institutions
    • Inequality and human rights
    • Human rights theories, philosophy, and histories of human rights activism in the Global South
    • Climate change and human rights
    • Multinational corporations and their impacts to human rights
    • Transitional justice and human rights
    • Education and human rights
    • The emergence of rising powers and the international human rights regime
    • Food security and human rights
    • Intersectionality and human rights
    • Global justice and the economy

This two-day conference will be held in The Hague — the political capital of the Netherlands and a multicultural city that hosts many important international organizations including the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice. We hope that the conference would be a starting point towards building an international network of scholars and practitioners interested in rethinking emancipatory politics and human rights during these very challenging times. We expect to publish an edited volume or a special issue in an academic journal based on the paper contributions from this conference.

Please submit your proposed abstract (maximum of 350 words) and a short biographical note (maximum of 150 words) with your contact details in PDF attached to the email. Proposals can be sent on or before 15th November 2018, 17:00 CET to We can provide travel expense support for accepted paper presenters from a minority group and/or systematically underprivileged backgrounds. If that is the case, then please write a short justification note for your request for travel support. Due to very limited funds, we are unable to accommodate all requests for travel support of accepted participants, but funding applications will be assessed based on compelling financial need and the potential to increase the analytic coverage of the conference. This conference is supported by the Leiden University’s Global Interactions Grant.

Ethnicity and Indigenous Rights

I would like to share another publication which is written in the context of my research project the negotiation of the right to food. The article is titled “The Limit of Narratives: Ethnicity and Indigenous Rights in Papua, Indonesia” published in the journal International Journal on Minority and Group Rights.

Here is the abstract:

As in many countries in Asia, the concept “indigenous” is a highly contested term in Indonesia. The government is of the opinion that Indonesia is a nation that has no indigenous peoples, or that all Indonesians are equally indigenous. The article aims to analyse the role and the paradox of using ethnic narratives, i.e. distinct social, economic or political systems, as well as language, culture and beliefs as their material and political basis, in the articulation of indigenous rights. Upon discussing a case study from Papua, Indonesia, it is observed that the use of ethnic narratives does create opportunity structures necessary for the struggles of indigenous rights. However, the salience of these endeavours is shaped by how these groups, their autonomy and marginalisation are positioned in the wider context of development, sovereignty and territoriality, which make them also dependent on the design and orientation of the state.

Call for Book Proposals, New Series Human Rights Interventions

Together with Dr. Chiseche Mibenge (Stanford), we have launched a new book series, titled Human Rights Interventions, with Palgrave MacMillan. The series joins the list International Relations and Security Studies held by Palgrave Senior Commissioning Editor Dr. Anca Pusca. And we are now accepting book proposals. Please check the instructions for submitting one here, and below is a short description of the series.

The traditional human rights frame creates a paradigm by which the duty bearer’s (state) and rights holder’s (civil society organizations) interests collide over the limits of enjoyment and enforcement. The series departs from the paradigm by centering peripheral yet powerful actors that agitate for intervention and influence in the (re)shaping of rights discourse in the midst of grave insecurities. The series privileges a call and response between theoretical inquiry and empirical investigation as contributors critically assess human rights interventions mediated by spatial, temporal, geopolitical and other dimensions. An interdisciplinary dialogue is key as the editors encourage multiple approaches such as law and society, political economy, historiography, legal ethnography, feminist security studies, and multi-media.

Development Hazard

In this article I revisit the concept of development hazard, which was the core of my doctoral research defended in 2009. Some new insights are included to argue for employing two main principles – fair distribution of benefits and popular participation, contained in the Declaration on the Right to Development. This article is published as open access in the Chinese Journal of Good Governance, and can be downloaded here.

The abstract reads:

It is common to criticize the right to development as a confusing compilation of ideas that brings into question its progressive realisation. This article concentrates precisely on this deferring situation. However, rather than scrutinizing the reasons of failures, it aims to explore a violation-based approach to the right to development in its connection as an instrument to address development hazards. The analysis focuses on two aspects of the right to development, firstly, the entitlement to fair distribution of benefits, as the basic argument to the obligation not to cause any harm in development, and secondly, the entitlement to participation, as an instrument to prevent and combat development hazards.