New Law, New villages? Changing Rural Indonesia

There is a new attention to village studies within anthropology after a long period with favor for more delocalized, and multisited studies about mobility and flows. Such a new approach on village studies would focus on different meanings assigned to villages, framed according to a variety of global developments in which they are core units. The new type of village studies “seek the general in the particular, and succeed in offering a view from the village of processes centering on the dynamics of cosmopolitanism and traditionalism, emplacement and mobility, and urbanity and rurality.” (Sorge & Jonathan, 2015, p. 244). In a practical sense, in depth village level studies serve as an ideal and strategic site of empirical observation for research on state-society relations. It is the site where the citizens interact with their intermediaries who play and integral role in service accession.

The village has always been critical in Indonesian governance discourse. The village had a core role in the colonial governance system in the Dutch East Indies, it was at the center of New Order coercion mechanisms and subsequently the epi-center of democratic reform. The new 2014 Village Law marks a considerable retreat for the Indonesian (national) state that, not too long ago, imposed its developmental policies on villages from above. This massive increase of responsibilities and budgets is likely to change the way in which most Indonesians perceive and interact with the state. In Indonesia various agencies are initiating policy implementation studies, but so far there are few independent academic studies. What will the impact of Indonesia’s Village Law be in terms of the character of villages and their role in Indonesia’s economic and political development?
The panel aims at gathering papers on empirical research in villages, for example on changing village leadership, the politicization of village life, or state-society relations at village level.

Sorge, A., & Jonathan, P. (2015). The abandoned village? Introduction to the special issue. Critique of Anthropology, 235-247.

Panel coordinator:

Jacqueline Vel (KITLV, Leiden)
Prio Sambodho (University of Amsterdam)
R.YandoZakaria (KARSA, Yogyakarta)


  1. Mampukah Dana Desa Mengurangi Kesenjangan di Perdesaan? (Hasil Sementara dari Studi Longitudinal Pelaksanaan UU Desa di Tiga Kabupaten) [Ulfah Alifia & Muhammad Syukri]
  2. Bagaimana Cara Desa Membelanjakan Uang?: Politisasi Kehidupan Desa [Stepanus Makambombu]
  3. Community-driven Development in State Transition: Experience of Indonesian PNPM from project to Village Law [Anggun Susilo & Irfani Darma]
  4. The Health Services for The Poor ODHA “People living with HIV/AIDS” in Decentralized Era in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia [Fitrilailah Mokui & Early Moeis Wulandari]
  5. Governance bottom-up: an agenda for new village level studies [Prio Sambodho]
  6. The Role of Village Intermediaries in Public Service Provision in Contemporary Indonesia: A Case Study of Three Communities in Serang District [Iqra Anugrah]
  7. Tourism and New-brand visage of Javanese Village [Edlin Dahniar A.]
  8. Integrating Fragmented Earth: A Smooth Transition to Compromise Traditional and Administrative Way in Organizing Land [Muhammad Damm]
  9. Constitution of Urban Hamlets (Kampung) and the Daily Expression of Identity in Jabodetabek [Shohei Nakamura]
  10. Kampung, Road and Hierarchy Formation at Kalehien Village, Central Kalimantan [Budi Setiyono]