LOCAL POLITICS AND LOCAL IDENTITY: RESISTANCE TO “LIBERAL DEMOCRACY” IN YOGYAKARTA SPECIAL REGIONS OF INDONESIA
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In a struggle to preserve traditional values and elite interests in Yogyakarta following the 1998 reforms, voluntary indigenous organizations (paguyuban) have used local ethnic identity and cultural resources to build legitimacy for their political positions and to mobilize participation in protests that support the privileged status of Yogyakarta Special Region. Cultural resources are themselves constructed, invented, contested, and politicized by communities to defend the “public interest” as they interpret it. In so doing, the Yogyanese engage in active, public resistance through paguyuban. Such groups reproduce existing cultural resources as part of a broader movement to oppose proposals for “democratization” or “liberal democracy” that have been raised by the central government. At the same time, however, a far larger portion of the population are not members of the any social movement organizations, this silent majority engages in everyday politics in their private lives in response to national, regional and local political dynamics. Based on data gathered through interviews, fieldwork and newspaper reports, this study finds that: (1) collective identity is produced and reproduced on the basis of local traditions, myths and values, leading to an active protest movement in the case of debates over the special political status of Yogyakarta; (2) the existence of indigenous groups contributes to shaping and reshaping such protest events; and (3) open politics and everyday politics, the latter of which has been neglected in previous research on Yogyakarta, are simultaneously active with regard to such political issues. This study shows that people react to local and national political dynamics in different ways, depending on whether their activities are in the public sphere or in their private lives. The reasons for such disconnections are diverse and include the impact of external mobilization, economic interests, social obligations, and reluctance to participate publicly, driven by the view that organized movements are meaningless due to the hegemony of the elite and due to attitudes of disillusionment with regard to democracy.