Christian Lund, "Nine-Tenths of the Law: Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia" (Yale UP, 2021)


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Why are land rights so bitterly contested in Indonesia, even after the end of Suharto’s New Order in 1998? What methods have grassroots movements used to re-possess – or to occupy – lands that have been seized by powerful entities? How come small-scale Indonesian farmers and marginalized communities crave legal recognition from the state? How did the Free Aceh Movement make the post-conflict land rights situation there worse than before? And why does Christian Lund insist that his new book is not primarily a book about Indonesia? And above all, why is “What is to be done?” the wrong question to ask about the problem of land dispossession?

In this wide-ranging conversation with NIAS Director Duncan McCargo, Christian Lund – a professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen – talks about his ground-breaking new book, Nine-Tenths of the Law: Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia (Yale UP, 2021). Christian explains how he switched from studying Ghana to working on ‘bedazzling’ Indonesia; and what he discovered during a long, collaborative journey of deep ethnographic immersion, during which he focused on troublesome and intractable questions of land rights, in cases drawn from North Sumatra, West Java and Aceh.

The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Asianettverket at the University of Oslo, and the Stockholm Centre for Global Asia at Stockholm University.

We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.

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