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The Uma-economy. Indigenous economics and development work in Lawonda, Sumba (Eastern Indonesia).

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The Uma-economy: indigenous economics and development work in Lawonda, Sumba (Eastern-Indonesia) Jacqueline A.C. Vel The island of Sumba is part of a poor and isolated area in Indonesia. Lawonda is the rural area in the middle of this island, where the main souce of living is agriculture for subsistence and exchange within the region. During a period of six years the author studied the economy of Lawonda as part of the indigenous culture and was involved in field work of a development organization of the protestant church. The first part of the book describes the indigenous economy, including both the norms of proper behavior concerning economic activities and the actual practices of the poorer part of the local population. Key issues in this part are everyday life of the villagers, economic history of the region, the morality of exchange, and the local perceptions on work and land. The name Uma-economy is used to stress the importance of traditional social organization in the indigenous economy, referring to its core unit, the Uma. In spite of the rural changes on Sumba, the Uma-economy maintains its specific characteristics. The mode of thinking which prevails in the Uma-economy is the basis for the local people's assessment of new developments. The second part of the book discusses the efforts of the local population to cope with the increasing need for money. Four different ways to obtain money depict the confrontation between traditional economic behavior and thinking, and the skills that are required and rationality that prevails in the market economy. Issues in this part are the indigenous assessment of cash-earning activities, exchange networks, indigenous social security, illegal activities to obtain money, increasing rice production and the introduction of a new cash-crop. The final chapter takes up the question about the scope of development intervention within the Uma-economy. Key words: indigenous economics, economic anthropology, development studies, poverty alleviation, Indonesia, Sumba. ISBN 90 5485 308 5, 304 pages, language: English, summary in Dutch, with photographs An Indonesian translation of this book has been published in 2010: Vel J.A.C. (2010). Ekonomi-Uma: Penerapan adat dalam dinamika ekonomi berbasis kekerabatan.Jakarta: HuMa; Van Vollenhoven Institute; KITLV-Jakarta. .
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... Both authors of this article have been engaged in research on Sumba for a long time: Jacqueline Vel since 1983 and Stepanus Makambombu since 2001. In our research, we have studied customary rules and practices in the local rural economy (Vel 1994); access to agrarian justice (Vel and Makambombu 2010); local politics as a combination of democratic and adat styles of governing (Vel 2008); and the role of government and adat elites in the establishment of large plantations in Sumba (McCarthy, Vel, and Afiff 2012;Vel, McCarthy, and Zen 2016;Makambombu 2016). Our sources for this article include results of our previous research, other academic literature and newspaper articles. ...
... Adat in this sense concerns the shared values with regard to the material and social sustenance of the community (Gudeman 2001, 27), which Andrew McWilliam (2009 has referred to as 'the spiritual commons' in the context of eastern Indonesia. In practical terms, access to agricultural land, organising help to build houses, working in the fields, arrangements for sharing and distributing food, deciding who would be a suitable wife or husband, settling disputes and determining appropriate sanctions are all daily matters regulated by adat rules (Vel 1994). The local expression 'arranging adat' refers to the material reciprocal obligations in the ceremonial exchange between households, mostly around weddings and funerals. ...
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This article is about the strategic use of adat arguments in the politics of large-scale land acquisition. While customary (adat) communities are commonly depicted as small local minorities living in the forests and being guardians of the environment, in many situations such communities occupy a majority position within the district. Majority adat communities are internally differentiated into categories of actors with varying and conflicting interests. This article focuses on Sumba in eastern Indonesia, where state and adat powers are not opposed but historically aligned. We analyse how five common ways of framing adat in Sumba are currently being deployed in land-acquisition politics, in situations supporting plantation land acquisition or protesting against farmers’ land dispossession. We draw attention to what we call ‘strategic adat framing’ as a political activity. The article calls for analysing the historical and social context of local deployments of adat for understanding the impact of current government pro-adat policies.
... 2008). Sedangkan Vel (1994) menjelaskan bahwa kaliwo merupakan bagian dari rumah yang merupakan satu kesatuan dan tidak dapat diberikan kepada orang lain selain anggota kelompok/keluarga. Gambaran keberadaan kaliwo sebagai bagian dari wilayah perkampungan adat seperti pada Gambar 2. ...
... Kayu mahoni digunakan sebagai tabungan untuk memenuhi kebutuhankebutuhan mendesak yang membutuhkan biaya besar seperti membayar biaya sekolah anak, acara adat dan keperluan jaminan saat terjadi gagal panen. Pola pemanfaatan ini sama dengan pemanfaatan hasil hutan rakyat di beberapa daerah di Pulau Jawa antara lain: "tebang butuh" Gambar 2. Landscape perkampungan tradisional di Pulau Sumba (Vel, 1994;79) atau subsisten, pada lahan milik dan dikelola secara individual (Kusumedi dan Jariyah, 2010;Jariyah dan Wahyuningrum, 2008., Awang, 2004. Sebagian besar produksi kayu mahoni dipasarkan di dalam wilayah Kabupaten Sumba Barat Daya, hanya sebagian kecil yang dijual keluar wilayah Kabupaten Sumba Barat Daya. ...
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ABSTRAK Hutan rakyat berpotensi menjadi solusi defisit kebutuhan kayu secara lokal maupun nasional. Optimalisasi peran hutan rakyat memerlukan perencanaan yang tepat dan data yang akurat. Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk menentukan potensi dan komposisi kayu penyusun hutan rakyat di Malimada, Kecamatan Wewewa Utara Kabupaten Sumba Barat Daya, Nusa Tenggara Timur. Penelitian menggunakan pendekatan diskriptif kuantitatif dengan metode sampling kuadrat. Sampel berjumlah 10 plot yang diambil secara puposive. Indeks Nilai Peneting (INP) digunakan untuk menggambarkan potency kayu dan komposisi jenis penyusun hutan rakyat. Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa mahoni (Swietenia macrophylla King) mendominasi tegakan dengan nilai INP pada tingkat sapihan, tiang dan pohon berturut-turut adalah 188,28; 211,28 dan 246,04. Struktur tegakan yang ada memiliki karakteristik yang hampir sama dengan hutan alam, hal ini terlihat dari grafik distribusi tingkat pertumbuhan yang berbentuk (J) terbalik (reverse J-shape). Kata kunci : potensi kayu, hutan rakyat, mahoni, analisis vegetasi ABSTRACT Private forests potentially solve the problem of local and national wood deficit. Optimizing the role of private forests, needs proper plannings and accurate data. This study aimed at determining wood potency and composition on private forest of Malimada, North Wewewa sub district, Southwest Sumba District of East Nusa Tenggara. This research used quantitative descriptive approach. Samplings purposive used quadrat methods with 10 plots were established. Important Value Index (IVI) was employed in order to depict wood potency and trees composition of private forest. The research results revealed that standing stock predominantly by mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla King.) with IVI at saplings, poles, and trees level were 188.28; 211.28 and 246.04 respectively. The existing structure stock has similar characteristics to the nature forest, this was indicated by reverse J-shape level of growth distribution curve. Keywords : wood potency, private forest, mahogany, vegetation analysis.
... These efforts take place within fields of contested norms and values and can also consist of ambivalent, unsocial and illegal ways to cope with insecurity (cf. Vel 1994, Nooteboom 2003. ...
... He has long-standing experience in action research among in both urban and rural areas in Sumba concerning access to social services and legal awareness. Jacqueline Vel lived in Central Sumba for 6 years engaging in grass root development work with the local poor in the rural area, and conducted research about the local farmers economic practices and customs (Vel 1994(Vel , 2010, and since 1998, she made frequent return visits for further research on the Sumbanese version of the national democratization process (Vel, 2008). Since 2007 her research concentrates on land law issues in Indonesia and biofuel developments in Eastern Indonesia in particular. ...
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This article explores access to justice for the poor in relation to land disputes in one of the poorest areas of Indonesia, the island of Sumba. Since 2007, agribusiness companies have been setting up businesses in Sumba with a view to undertake large scale cultivation of biofuel crops. Inspired by global debate on adverse effects of such land grabbing there was expectation that this development would lead to land conflict. As researchers our main point of enquiry was how the poor and disadvantaged in Central and Eastern Sumba have access to redress mechanisms when the land they use for cultivation purposes is subject to other competing variables. Evidence from field research suggests that negotiations with companies exist, but have been mainly about compensation rather than conflicts about land use, and involved land owners and local elites only. Inequality in access to land appears to be incorporated in the local legal repertoire pertaining to land. The poor and the disadvantaged have little decision making power as to the use and distribution of natural resources. Based on this finding, the article discusses the difference between access to justice research that focuses on access to legal institutions and an agrarian justice approach in which analysis of the injustices that the poor and the disadvantaged experience is a point of departure for investigating options for redress.
... In the traditional Sumba context, it is all about living economically in a dualism of a surrealist world of Marapu that supports the realist world of an agricultural culture as explored in Vel's work. (Vel, 1994) ...
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Rendell stated that gender representation underlined the production of space in architecture both symbolically and functionally in certain cultures (Rendell et al. 2000). Thus, an exploration on the spatial functionality of traditional houses could show how cultural gender rules and roles generate the spatial arrangements. This empirical research explored the traditional houses in two kampongs: Tarung and Ratenggaro of West Sumba, Indonesia, which spaces are divided into two distinct spaces: male's space and female's space, each with its own entrance. This firm division leads to the questions on its relation with the traditional gender roles are represented inside the house. Interestingly, the spatial arrangement is not intended to create separation between men and women inside the house or to pose that the status and roles of men are higher than those of women. The research found that the space separation actually is a manifestation of the dynamic roles of male and female members of the house and the circular arrangement of the space around the fireplace at the centre of the house follows the dynamic of gender duality in Sumba culture.
... In this paper I have suggested that the intricate and multiple exchange relationships that enact social alliance among Fataluku communities represent forms of mutual appropriation; a set of reciprocal debts and claims upon multiple resources by multiple households that constitute the materiality of the gift economy and the basis for processes of social renewal. I argue further that these elaborated processes of exchange, which have always been present in The practices of a revitalised Fataluku exchange economy outlined here resonate with a significant body of literature focused on a related set of issues described in terms of the moral economy (Scott 1976), the house economy (Vel 1994) All this is not say that Fataluku have jettisoned their engagement with the modernity project and the aspirational politics for material well being in which all are simultaneously embarked to varying degree. The realisation of sovereign independence 'against the odds' carried with it strong expectations of prosperity and social justice for those who suffered and endured (Traube 2007 (2003), it is well placed to re-engage its progressive embrace. ...
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The collapse of the market economy and most employment opportunities that accompanied the withdrawal of Indonesia from East Timor in 1999 prompted the re-emergence of customary exchange practices that were heavily attenuated during Indonesian rule (1975-99). For many Fataluku-speaking Timorese communities, the strict internal security regime that accompanied military occupation curtailed opportunities for enacting vital exchanges that inform and reproduce social relations between kin, affines, and ancestors. As they rebuild their lives in a now independent Timor-Leste, a renewed attention to exchange and the reciprocal flow of gifts, goods, labour, and blessings is again engaging Fataluku households. In this context, ideas of obligation and mutual exchange become constitutive elements of socio-economic and religious activity that is fundamental to the resilience of the community. The article considers the role of gift economies as expressions of human security from below and as strategies designed to mitigate economic uncertainty through ritual exchange and religious action.
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The central question addressed in this working paper is whether and how the poor and disadvantaged in Central and East Sumba have access to redress mechanisms when the land that they cultivate or live on becomes contested. Criteria for 'being disadvantaged' include poverty in an economic sense, but also low position in the social hierarchy, and criteria related to ethnicity, education, and other forms of social and cultural capital. The dominant normative framework in Sumba is customary law (adat). Clan chiefs have the largest say in decision-making on how natural resources are allocated and distributed, but there is not always consensus on who is the legitimate chief. Moreover, state law provides alternative rules for justice seekers in dealing with land and addressing labour issues. The paper presents an analysis of the current adat-dominated system of land governance, in which elements of state law are integrated. We look at how this hybrid system functions in practice, because it is in this context that land disputes occur and are resolved. Ten smaller empirical examples provide insight into everyday implementation of law in relation to land. Two recent cases in which large plantations are being established on Sumba – where large scale commercial agriculture is just in planning or starting phase – indicate how this hybrid legal system functions in response to agrarian change. A third case involving contested mining activities indicates how power differences can block access to justice. Millar and Sarat's dispute resolution pyramid provides a useful explanation of how Sumbanese use redress mechanisms, but choice of mechanism does not depend on the type of dispute only. In line with the 'forms of capital' model for explaining differences in power (or disadvantage), it appears that available forums of redress are only accessible for justice seekers with a sufficient amount of economic, social and cultural capital.
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