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Settler Colonialism in Indonesia? Evidence from Transmigration in West Papua

Dates:
  • Tue 04 Feb 2020 13.00 - 15.00
  Add to Calendar 2020-02-04 13:00 2020-02-04 15:00 Europe/Paris Settler Colonialism in Indonesia? Evidence from Transmigration in West Papua

A presentation within the Inequality Working Group

Over the late 20th century, Indonesia resettled hundreds of thousands of primarily Javanese farmers to the province of West Papua, transforming its demographic composition. Yet, despite controlling West Papua since the 1960s, organized resettlement or ‘transmigration’ to West Papua was very limited until the mid-1980s and has been limited to only certain areas. So, what accounts for variation in transmigration to West Papua? Drawing on confidential government sources, I compiled a new, complete panel of all transmigration in each Regency of West Papua between 1964-2000. Using a difference-in-differences design I show that, after an aborted Papuan uprising in 1984, Indonesia ethnically cleansed and settled its border with Papua New Guinea to forestall cross-border insurgent activity. I then show that, after the discovery of the enormous Grasberg gold mine in the 1980s, Indonesia ethnically cleansed and settled the area around the mine. By drawing on confidential internal data, this paper provides the first comprehensive evidence that transmigration has been strategically used by the Indonesian state to defeat insurgents and secure control over Papua’s rich resource base. I draw out the implications of these findings for our understanding of settler colonialism more generally.

Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana DD/MM/YYYY
  Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana

A presentation within the Inequality Working Group

Over the late 20th century, Indonesia resettled hundreds of thousands of primarily Javanese farmers to the province of West Papua, transforming its demographic composition. Yet, despite controlling West Papua since the 1960s, organized resettlement or ‘transmigration’ to West Papua was very limited until the mid-1980s and has been limited to only certain areas. So, what accounts for variation in transmigration to West Papua? Drawing on confidential government sources, I compiled a new, complete panel of all transmigration in each Regency of West Papua between 1964-2000. Using a difference-in-differences design I show that, after an aborted Papuan uprising in 1984, Indonesia ethnically cleansed and settled its border with Papua New Guinea to forestall cross-border insurgent activity. I then show that, after the discovery of the enormous Grasberg gold mine in the 1980s, Indonesia ethnically cleansed and settled the area around the mine. By drawing on confidential internal data, this paper provides the first comprehensive evidence that transmigration has been strategically used by the Indonesian state to defeat insurgents and secure control over Papua’s rich resource base. I draw out the implications of these findings for our understanding of settler colonialism more generally.


Location:
Seminar Room 4 - Badia Fiesolana

Affiliation:
Department of Political and Social Sciences

Type:
Working group

Speaker:
Lachlan Andrew Mcnamee (EUI - Max Weber Fellow)

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