Local and National: Keroyokan Mobbing in Indonesia

TitleLocal and National: Keroyokan Mobbing in Indonesia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsWelsh B
JournalJournal of East Asian Studies
Date PublishedSep-Dec
Type of ArticleReview
ISBN Number1598-2408
Accession NumberISI:000261152800006
KeywordsBali, Bengkulu, decentralization, ethnography, INDONESIA, Java, KALIMANTAN, keroyokan, mobbing, VIOLENCE

From horrific accounts of men decapitated to "ordinary" accounts of stolen motorcycles, the routine beating and killing of alleged criminals by mobs (massa) has become common in Indonesia. This article examines the patterns of keroyokan-mobbing-from 1995 through 2004 in four provinces and high-lights the temporal, spatial, and substantive variations of this phenomenon, Drawing from a database of provincial and local news clippings in Bali, Bengkulu, West Java, and South Kalimantan and in-depth case studies and interviews, this article shows that mobbing varies considerably. Its causes are national and local. The temporal data show that nationally the most important factor to influence levels of mobbing was the introduction of decentralization. The power vacuum that resulted from the policy decision to transfer authority from the center to localities increased local violence. Yet this macrolevel explanation is inadequate to show the spatial variation and different forms of mobbing violence. To understand the causes of these dimensions of variation, one has to move away from macronational approaches measuring violence and include a more microethnographic local approach. A richer understanding of mobbing must be locally rooted. This article uses three case studies to illustrate the centrality of local factors affecting this form of violence. The case studies suggest that mobbing is shaped by the acquiescence of actors in local communities and local learning. The article draws attention to the need to incorporate local data and methods into an analysis of violence in Indonesia and to appreciate varied daily rituals of violence as reservoirs of conflict.

URL<Go to ISI>://000261152800006
Alternate JournalJ. East Asian Stud.