Moral Politics of Victimhood: Cultures of Social Movements to Cope with Indonesia’s Lapindo Mudflow, 2006

Anton Novenanto, Department of Sociology, Universitas Brawijaya, Indonesia; AIFIS-Luce visiting fellow, English Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence


In Search of Social-Ecological Transformation in Indonesia's Urbanizing Landscapes


Environmental disaster victims are frequently perceived as powerless due to the physical and mental sufferings that they experience in the aftermath of geophysical hazards. They not only already had to lose their time, energy, and materials, they must also recover from all of the backwardness and abnormalities. Calling from a critical ethnography in doing longitudinal engaged research with victim groups and environmental activists, the paper aims to describe how victims of the Lapindo mudflow in Porong, East Java have been maintaining their victimhood and inventing their own agency to struggle in the battle of social construction of the event/process through ongoing, yet unequal power relations with other actors in power. Recalling and challenging various cultural, traditional features, narratives, and conceptions of power, they have emerged as one subject to shape the history of environmental social movements in a post-authoritarian Indonesia era.

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