Agrarian movements and rural populism in Indonesia

Ben White*, Colum Graham, Laksmi Savitri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
134 Downloads (Pure)


In this article, we reflect on the changing trajectories of agrarian movements in Indonesia. In the two decades after independence, a left-populist alliance of peasants, plantation workers, and other affiliate organizations achieved a mass following and were embraced by President Sukarno. In the aftermath of their violent destruction, the Suharto regime reordered agrarian movements into a single corporatist model. Suharto's downfall opened the way for the re-emergence of agrarian organizations and movements. But two decades later, they remain small and fragmented, with little influence at the national level. In the changing conditions of rural life, and the increasingly authoritarian political context, progressive rural movements face dilemmas on questions both of their focus and goals and of tactical alliances with other progressive movements and political elites. A broader, more inclusive progressive populist alliance is a possibility, but with the continuing danger of co-optation by forces of the populist right.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12506
Pages (from-to)68-84
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Agrarian Change
Issue number1
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Agrarian Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to Tania Li, the associate editor, and the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of an earlier draft and their helpful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Agrarian Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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