ROUNDTABLE – Mining, Politics and Justice in Indonesia
Date : 04 May 2017
Time : 15:00 - 18:00
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC

Jointly organized by the Indonesia Study Group of Asia Research Institute, and Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore.



Assoc Prof Jamie Davidson, National University of Singapore


Assoc Prof Maribeth Erb, National University of Singapore


Dr Siwage Dharma Negara, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore
Prof Kathryn Robinson, Australian National University
Dr Semiarto Aji Purwanto, University of Indonesia
Assoc Prof Maribeth Erb, National University of Singapore










In developing countries, such as Indonesia, many economic development planners promote mining as a way to alleviate poverty and achieve prosperity. However, at the end of the 1990’s after two decades of a global mining boom, the mining industry underwent massive criticism, after many environmental disasters and human rights abuses were laid at the feet of some of the world's largest mining companies. Despite attempted reforms, concerns over environmental destruction and community rights continue to be in conflict with national and global attempts to raise productivity in the name of wealth creation and poverty reduction. The tensions and contradictions associated with the reform of the mining industry is readily visible in the social, political and economic landscape of post-New Order Indonesia, a country which has been striving to push economic growth and foreign investment. While post-New Order democratization has led to widening spaces for local communities to express themselves both politically as well as culturally, it has also opened the door to increasing numbers of global actors, both those interested in exploitation of natural resources for wealth creation and accumulation, as well as those interested in protecting biodiversity and the natural environment. With regional autonomy legislation in the early 2000’s investors interested in exploitation of natural resources, such as mining corporations, could directly negotiate with local political leaders, who often allocated mining licenses without full consent of local communities. This increasingly resulted in conflict over land rights and accusations of environmental destruction. Changing laws have attempted to address these concerns, however how effective they will be in terms of guarding community rights and sustainable environmental practice remains to be seen. Speakers in this roundtable will address various issues to do with the changing politics and legislation in Indonesia with regards to mining, as well as questions of environmental and community justice in various regions across Indonesia.


Kathryn Robinson (Australian National University) is an anthropologist whose research has been focused on Indonesia, especially the provinces of South and Southeast Sulawesi. Recent publications include: Land and Development in Indonesia: Searching for the People’s Sovereignty (ISEAS Publishing ,ed. with John F. McCarthy, 2016); Youth Identities and Social Transformations in Modern Indonesia, Brill; and Social Assessment Policy and Praxis and its Emergence in China, (Berghan ed. with Susanna Price). The local impacts of the Sorowako nickel project in South Sulawesi have been a particular focus (Stepchildren of Progress: The Political Economy of Development in an Indonesian Mining Town, SUNY Press 1986) and she has a current ARC Discovery project on mining in Indonesia with A/Prof Maribeth Erb (NUS). She has also written extensively on gender relations in Indonesia and on expressions of Islam in Eastern Indonesia.

Maribeth Erb is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. She has been conducting anthropological research in eastern Indonesia, particularly on Flores Island, since the early 1980s. Her research has been on kinship, ritual, tourism, politics, and the environment and she has published articles and co-edited several books on these topics. Most recently with changes in legislation that stimulated the allocation of new mining contracts in eastern Indonesia, she has conducted research on the resistance, as well as the promotion, of mining as a livelihood and development choice in Nusa Tenggara Timur province.

Semiarto Aji Purwanto is a qualified and experienced researcher who has been working in the area of social studies since 1990. He is a PhD holder in anthropology from the University of Indonesia in 2010. His works and interests include environmental/forestry studies, mining, agriculture, ethnicity, and the use of information/technology. As a researcher and scientist, he has published several publications since 1994, to include some of his own research. In addition, he has served in many activities as facilitator in the process of advocacy or program planning for community based management and social impact assessment as well. He is the coordinator of Undergraduate Program at the Department of Anthropology, University of Indonesia. Granting some awards and scholarships, he was a Nippon Foundation grantee for one-year research on urban agriculture in the Philippines, 2008-2009; ASEAN Research Scholar at the National University of Singapore 2007; and Australian Leadership Award in Monash University, Melbourne, Australia 2012.

Siwage Dharma Negara is a research fellow at the the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) - Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. Prior to joining ISEAS, he was an economist at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). He obtained his PhD in economics from the University of Melbourne, Australia. His research interests cover a broad range of development issues, including infrastructure, connectivity, trade and industrial policy, foreign direct investment and technology transfer in developing countries. He has worked as consultant and contributor for the World Bank, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Oxford Analytica, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP). He is a co-editor for Journal of Southeast Asian Economies.


Admission is free. We would greatly appreciate if you click on the "Register" button above to RSVP.

Contact Person(s)
Minghua TAY