Universitas Indonesia Conferences, The 8th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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Rina Mardiana

Last modified: 2022-06-07


by Rina Mardiana, Djuara P Lubis, and Risdawati Ahmad


Land is the production base of rural communities that rely on the livelihood system in the agricultural sector. Structural agrarian conflicts caused by state political policies, in practice not only make agrarian conflicts vertical but also horizontal. Thus, land is an arena of contestation of power from diverse actors (villagers, governments, corporations, and civil society organizations) intertwined with historical narratives and knowledge related to territories over the land or territory. Indigenous peoples became amorrian subject entities that echoed since the reform era resonated with the demands for agrarian justice and recognition of their customary territories. On the other hand, the new order era has systematically eroded the customary order system throughout the archipelago. Therefore, the momentum of reform is the opening door for the squirming of adat jargon, indigenous peoples, indigenous identities, customary territories, and customary forests. The Customary Territory Registration Agency (BRWA) until March 2022 have made maps of indigenous territories as many as 1,091 fields with a total area of 17.7 million hectares spread across 29 provinces (141 regencies/cities). Meanwhile, until January 2022, the recognition of customary forests by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has only covered 15 provinces (32 districts) with a total of 89 customary forests covering an area of 76,156 hectares. So that the opportunity to own land through customary forests has been widely used by various communities. The fluid boundaries of indigenous communities make claims to these customary forests very dynamic: who is an indigenous people? This paper uses the perspective of political ecology in tracing how the "construction" of community formation to make customary forest claims. The study area includes Jambi Province (Suku Anak Dalam community) and North Sumatra (Batak Toba community). In the Batak Toba community, the community is based on the genealogical ties of the clan, so that the "sipungka huta" clan (which opened the settlement) "ruled" over their territory. Clan identity becomes a strong binder in customary forest claims. Uniquely, in some villages customary forest claims in this area are widely submitted by boru. In the Suku Anak Dalam community, the role of semendo is important, because the "indigenous" community advances a lot of this "semendo" to make indigenous territory claims.

Keywords: indigenous identity, customary forest, political ecology, knowledge, policy

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