Disengaged Citizens: Involuntarily Returned and Relocated Transmigrants in Southern Kebumen


Laila Kholid Alfirdaus(1*)

(1) Diponegoro University
(*) Corresponding Author


The government’s policy to return transmigration program participants, due to the explosion of conflicts in transmigration areas outside Java in the early 2000s to the district where these people originated has raised many questions of citizen engagement. This study aims to identify the impacts of the policy on the returned transmigrants using the idea of citizenship as a framework of analysis. The field research was conducted from December 2012 to February 2013 in Southern Kebumen using in-depth interviews with about 20 informants and direct observations. From the fieldwork, it is found that instead of resolving the problem by returning thousands of transmigration participants, which then was followed with collective relocation, has made the issue more complex. This later aspect caused multiple exclusions to the returned transmigrants socially and politically. The case highlights the government’s ignorance of the aspects of geography, ethnicity, cultures, religions, languages, and gender that define citizenship in the Indonesian context, and are impacted by the transmigration policy. Such ignorance has led to the acute political disengagement. Weak inclusion and over-simplification in the handling of the transmigration program (sending, returning, and relocating people from one place to another), due to the single definition of citizen and citizenship, which the government uses in treating people merely as ‘materials’ for boosting economic growth, instead of as citizens that have rights for recognition, seems to be the core explanation of this case. By elaborating this issue, this paper is expected to enrich the existing study on citizenship, especially the core problems that relate to (forced) transmigration policy, which is rarely discussed among scholars.


Citizenship recognition; civic nationalism; fragmented citizenship

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/pcd.26314

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