The emergence of village meetings and the introduction of village assemblies in early twentieth century colonial Indonesia

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Abstract

Although almost no stipulation was made by Indonesia's Acts on Local Administration, village meetings played an important role in creating consensus among villagers during the Soekarno era and after the step-down of President Soeharto and the implementation of the decentralization policy. This paper traces the origins and characteristics of village meetings and the attempt to introduce village assemblies using colonial Residents' reports on the Village Autonomy survey conducted in 1927-29 in Java and Madoera. The village meeting was firstly stipulated by the Village Ordinance of 1906, but meetings were seldom held until the 1910s in Central and East Java. In 1928, in almost all villages surveyed, meetings were held by village heads to consult on important issues with villagers who had the right to choose the village head. Yearly and monthly meetings as well as hamlet meetings were held in many areas. Participants were mainly those villagers who owned agricultural lands and were obliged to perform compulsory herendienst service. Although some widows had the right to attend, they exercised their rights only to choose the village head. Consensus was reached through unanimous agreement without voting. Attempts to introduce village assemblies failed because of conflicts between the assembly and village heads. Similar conflicts appeared in 2002-04 after the introduction of village assemblies designed to check the performance of village administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-183
Number of pages23
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Volume45
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

Keywords

  • Decision-making
  • Indonesia
  • Musyawarah mufakat
  • Nederlandsch-Indiïe
  • Village administration
  • Village assembly
  • Village authonomy
  • Village meeting

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