Juxtapositions in Jakarta: How Flood Interventions Reinforce and Challenge Urban Divides

Roanne van Voorst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper traces the interplay of spatially, socially and legally juxtaposed differences between different groups of Indonesia’s residents: (1) a group of riverbank settlers in Jakarta, (2) political decision-makers and urban planners that evict this particular riverbank settlement and (3) a group of Jakartan academics, architects and journalists that got involved in these interventions. The dynamics between and within these groups are examined through a case study in a riverbank settlement, where inhabitants are not only at risk of regular flooding but also of evictions. The analysis combines the notion of juxtapositions with a ‘revelatory approach’ towards disaster. The notion of juxtapositions makes clear how urban divides are shaped, and how they, in turn, produce ideas and practices of citizenship in Jakarta. The revelatory approach to disasters helps to show that floods can function as an accelerator to both reinforce and challenge these juxtapositions, thus also changing citizenship ideas and practices. The analysis reveals on the one hand that floods and interventions deepen socio-economic inequalities in an already highly unequal city. However, on the other hand, they also trigger collective mobilisation of evictees as well as unprecedented cooperation between this particular group of riverbank settlers and more resourceful members of Jakarta’s wider society. This eventually results in successful contestation of evictions through court and other claims to citizenship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-388
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Forum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by NWO, grant number 453-14-013.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).


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