Samin vs Semen: Media, Performance and Technology in Environmental and Peasant Movement in Central Java

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 08 September 2010


Coombs Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Amrih Widodo (School of Culture, History and Language, ANU)


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
After incessant confrontations with local peasant communities and environmental activists for more than two years, in mid-2009 Pati District government announced the cancellation of the construction of a new cement factory with a capacity of 2.5 million tons per year in South Pati, Central Java. Both the government and Semen Gresik, Indonesia’s biggest cement manufacturer, never expected that the small indigenous community with historical origin to Samin movement had the vision, organisation skills, resources and endurance to resist the plan. This paper will investigate the dynamics of the development of the movement from a small locally based indigenous community mostly concerned with issues regarding identity representation and leave-me-alone ideological position to a more complex new social movement tackling aggressively social, political, cultural and environmental problems. The discussion will focus on the strategies that the movement has employed in their struggle, particularly in the ways they have embraced and utilized modern forms of cultural performance, media and communication technology while maintaining the simple and authentic images and nuances of an indigenous community. The paper will also draw some implications on local and national politics, highlighting the dynamics of power relations at the grass-root level in the context of the last national general election (Pemilu) in 2009 and the coming local election of district head (Pilkada) in 2011.

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