Access to land in Sundanese community: A case study of upland peasant households in Kemang Village, West Java, Indonesia

Siti Sugiah Machfud Mugniesyah, Kosuke Mizuno

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3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on a case study that explores women's access to land, especially among peasant households with a bilateral kinship system in a Sundanese community in an upland village of West Java. Based on values of equity in gender, locally called sanak, the parents treat their sons and daughters equally as children and tend to allocate their land based on the customary law. This law supports gender equality in land ownership, which falls into three categories applicable both for paddy field (sawah) and dry land (pasir). The three categories of land ownership are (a) land solely owned by the husband, (b) land solely owned by the wife, and (c) land with joint ownership (locally called gono-gini). Of the total 98.29 ha of the land belonging to households studied, about 50.6% is in gono-gini, while the percentage owned solely by the husband is 28.4% and solely by the wife is 21.0%. Of the 111 households owning land, about 90.1% of them obtained the land either through inheritance, grant or by purchasing after their marriage. The facts show that the owners of the household's land are predominantly women, reaching 43% compared to only 38% owned by men. The gender equality in land ownership is also evident in the inheritance system that passes through both male and female lines. Based on 20 cases (households), the total land obtained from the mother is 6.389 ha (39.23%), while that obtained from the father is 7.496 ha (46.04%) and that from both parents is 2.398 ha (14.73%). Both women and men, including widows/widowers, have control over their land, not only over their inherited/granted/purchased land, but also over to other land that is used in sharecropping, rented and mortgaged. This phenomenon has been recognized by the community and by the external authority at the village level as documented in the Letter C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-544
Number of pages26
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Equality land ownership
  • Gono-gini
  • Sanak values
  • Sundanese community


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