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Jeremy J. Kingsley

This article demonstrates how an integral element of the fabric of governance on the eastern Indonesian island of Lombok, and many other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, are non-state local security arrangements, such as night watches and militias. These groups play a significant role in the local infrastructure of security and law enforcement. Consequently, this article challenges a common assumption by legal scholars, and many other observers of Indonesia, that state-based institutions such as the police are the exclusive, and only legitimate, mode of law enforcement in Indonesia. Through an ethnographic engagement with the idea of law enforcement on Lombok, I seek to broaden these assumptions about legitimate modes of statecraft. These non-state entities fill a void in the Indonesian law enforcement architecture that the state is unable or unwilling to fulfil (or potentially finds it more practical to delegate to local non-state institutions).

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Dharma Power

Searching for Security in Post–New Order Indonesia

Kari Telle

Security concerns are creeping into new aspects of everyday life in Indonesia, resulting in new organizational forms and ways of perceiving self and society. Stressing the cultural shaping of all security discourses, this article examines how members of the Balinese minority on the island Lombok have formed a Hindu-inspired civilian security force known as Dharma Wisesa. I argue that the appeal of this movement is located in its attempts to fuse domains of power that the modern state has prised apart. Having appropriated the magic of the state, the Dharma Wisesa movement also maintains relations with a 'spirit army' that provides supernatural support. Such practices draw into question the notion of secular modernity and suggest that authority is constituted by allying oneself with different forms of power, both visible and invisible.

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The Smell of Death

Theft, Disgust and Ritual Practice in Central Lombok, Indonesia

Kari G. Telle

In this essay I examine a form of stealing that people in rural Sasak communities on the island of Lombok find deeply problematic because of its intimate nature: theft of which they suspect that someone in their own hamlet or village is culpable. In the large village in central Lombok where I have carried out fieldwork, theft that is attributed to a so-called ‘neighbourhood thief’ is said to produce a foul smell (bais) that begins to ooze out from where the theft occurred, enveloping the neighbourhood in a putrid stench.1 This smell is particularly intense when the thief is not caught in the act of stealing, but manages to slip away. In connection with a theft of two heirloom daggers and several pieces of old cloth that occurred one Saturday night in June 2001 and of which a close neighbour soon emerged as a suspect, Bapen Seni, a man who lives nearby, commented in disgust: ‘Now this neighbourhood really stinks [bais gubuk]! The stench is smelled even far away, it cannot be sealed off.’