Nine-Tenths of the Law Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia Christian Lund

Yale Agrarian Studies Series
Publication date:
23 Feb 2021
Yale University Press
264 pages: 235 x 156 x 17mm
9 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

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An exploration of the relationship between possession and legalization across Indonesia, and how people navigate dispossession

The old aphorism “possession is nine-tenths of the law” is particularly relevant in Indonesia, which has seen a string of regime changes and a shifting legal landscape for property claims. Ordinary people struggle to legalize their possessions and claim rights in competition with different branches of government, as well as police, army, and private gangs. This book explores the relationship between possession and legalization across Indonesia, examining the imaginative and improvisational interpretations of law by which Indonesians navigate dispossession.

Christian Lund heads the global development section at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food and Resource Economics. He is the author of Law, Power, and Politics in Niger and Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa.

“Why do people pursue legalizing claims if the law does not live up to its promise to offer enduring predictability? Lund offers profound insights in this fundamental paradox of law.”—Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, co-author of Political and Legal Transformations of an Indonesian Polity

Nine-Tenths of the Law is a very important contribution to an emerging debate on citizenship in the postcolonial world, deftly connecting literatures on postcolonial law, citizenship, and anthropologies of the state."—Gerry van Klinken, author of Postcolonial Citizenship in Provincial Indonesia

Nine-Tenths of the Law reflects the realities and experiences of those dealing with issues of land property, agrarian conflict, legalization, and corruption. I strongly recommend this intriguing and contemporary book.”—Professor Sulistyowati Irianto, Faculty of Law, Universitas Indonesia

Nine-Tenths of the Law is a timely contribution in Indonesian contemporary politics. It explores pressing agrarian matters, using a socio-legal approach, and writing from a state capacity point of view. A very comprehensive way to understand a complex issue" —Amalinda Savirani, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

Nine-Tenths of the Law offers a ground-breaking and multi-dimensional understanding of the ways property is configured in relationships of power, land, and urbanization.”—Duncan McDuie-Ra, author of Borderland City in New India: Frontier to Gateway