From Rebellion to Riots: Collective Violence on Indonesian Borneo

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By Jamie S. Davidson

From Rebellion to Riots examines contemporary violence in one of Indonesia's most heterogeneous provinces, West Kalimantan. It documents how a communist rebellion in the 1960s and low-level conflicts in the decades that followed led to major ethnic clashes in the late 1990s, when an indigenous empowerment movement took shape and local elites sought to capture the benefits of decentralization and democratization.

Citing fieldwork, internal military documents, and ethnographic accounts, Jamie S. Davidson's historically-rooted analysis argues that explanations based on a clash of cultures, the ills of New Order-led development, or marginalization overlook the importance of an ongoing politicization of ethnic and indigenous identity. His research demonstrates that the endemic violence in this vast region is not an inevitable outcome of its ethnic diversity, and that the initial impetus for collective bloodshed is not necessarily the same as the forces that sustain it. The conclusions the book draws will be of great interest to students of Southeast Asia and to scholars of collective violence and indigenous politics.


"Thoroughly grounded in both the burgeoning theoretical literature on ethnic violence and the turbulent history of western Borneo, this nuanced study shows the need to disaggregate such vast entities as Indonesia to understand the "tipping points" towards violence." - Anthony Reid

"Path-breaking. Davidson assesses the prior scholarship on ethnic violence and challenges much of the conventional wisdom in a manner that has both insight and considerable value." - Michael Leigh

Jamie S. DAVIDSON is Associate Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore.


Publication Year: 2009
312 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-427-2, Paperback

NUS Press