Energy Provision, Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development in Indonesia and Other Countries

Indonesia’s massive infrastructure drive is creating altogether new forms of interconnectivity and economic opportunity across the archipelago, with new toll roads, seaports, industrial estates and much more paving the way for unprecedented flows of goods, ideas, people and capital (cf. Inda and Rosaldo, 2002), including into ASEAN and beyond. At local levels, affordable and reliable energy provision brings with it immense opportunities and benefits. Security, comfort and social interaction are no longer dependent on daylight hours and favorable weather, in turn potentially boosting business, industry and education activities and enhancing global connectedness. Less often considered are problematic factors that can arise when technological change sweeps into existing social situations and structures (Winther, 2008). Social fracturing and even conflict can occur as power relations and social norms are disrupted. Uptake of new and renewable energies (NRE) can overcome environmental and economic problems associated with traditional energy sources, but unchecked may give rise to new maintenance, distribution and ownership issues. More broadly, mechanization and automation relieve citizens of heavy physical labor, but so too over time impact on family structure, work, diet, cultural identity and lifestyle in not-always positive ways. Energy provision and in particular electrification are key markers of modernization, seen variously to reflect enlightenment and progress and, albeit less directly, the erosion of community-oriented values and connection with nature. Anthropologists can offer both broad views and practical recommendations on local-level challenges and opportunities associated with accelerated development and NREs, and together with technologists, policy makers, NGO actors and others seek to contribute to outcomes that are grid-savvy, equitable and sustainable. This panel invites cultural science and interdisciplinary papers on energy provision, sustainable development and social inclusion in contemporary Indonesia and elsewhere. Papers may be in Bahasa Indonesia or English (or written in one and presented in the other).

Panel coordinator:

Max M. Richter (Monash University)
Pujo Semedi (Universitas Gadjah Mada)


  1. “Lamp Goes Out, The Water becomes Fire”: A Case Study of Micro-Hydro Power Plant in Melawi Makmur, West Kalimantan [Nouruz Zaman Oktaby & Pujo Semedi]
  2. Problematising state-society explanations of remote-electricity issues: the case of Kai Besar, Maluku [Krisna Satya & Max Richter]
  3. Social aspects of new electricity configurations at local- and other-levels: Towards an analysis of rationales, barriers, enablers & impacts [Max Richter, Pujo Semedi, Ariel Liebman, Nouruz Oktaby, & Krisna Satya]
  4. The Evolution of Indonesian Atomic Institution, 1954-1966 [Pratama Yudha Pradheksa]