Economic and Social Disparities in East Kalimantan: Exploring Emerging and Persisting Inequalities

Michaela Haug (University of Cologne)


Regional autonomy has led to manifold changes in East Kalimantan during the last fifteen years, challenging the picture of its interior regions as Indonesia’s margins. Through an excessive pemekaran process new political and administrative centers have been created, endowed with new political authority and new economic opportunities. The indigenous population – seen as a whole – has been empowered and large efforts have been undertaken by local governments to increase service provision and local infrastructure. However, inequality is rising and new processes of marginalization are taking place as new centers inevitably create new margins. Taking the regency of Kutai Barat as an example I explore how new inequalities emerged between different village communities and between individual villagers. While some of these inequalities have proven to be rather temporary others seem to produce long-term social and economic disparities.