Displacement, Resettlement, and Multi-Local Livelihoods

Positioning Migrant Legitimacy in Lampung, Indonesia

Author: Rebecca Elmhirst


This article examines shifting attitudes toward rural migrants in Lampung Province, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, in the context of a history of enclosure, commercial expansion, and dispossession. The author examines how contemporary multi-local livelihoods in Lampung reflect an adaptation to the vulnerabilities associated with being a migrant, as people position themselves to qualify for livelihood resources. The author's interpretation draws on Michel Foucault's analysis of the production of governable subjects and, in particular, norms of conduct that produce subjectivities and identities that "fit." The article explores how different policy phases associated with environmental governance in Lampung have created contrasting positionings and norms of conduct for migrants, as they have been defined, on the one hand, as pioneer entrepreneurs, bringing progress to Indonesia's hinterland, and, on the other, as forest squatters, threatening the cultural and ecological integrity of the province. The author suggests that rural migrants have attempted to resolve their problematic positioning through multi-local livelihoods, which combine access to nonlocal income through temporary migration with the maintenance of a foothold that signals belonging and legitimate entitlement to state resources.

Countries: Indonesia

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