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In Session: Rethinking the History of Capitalism in Twentieth Century Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
2: The Governance of Urban Land in Colonial and Postcolonial Java
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
Since the start of the twentieth century, a series of decentralization program resulted in the institutionalization and commodification of urban land-ownership that is tied to the need of urban municipalities in developing an economically sustainable system for local governance. The rise of municipalities as providers and brokers of urban land and its relationship with rising real estate industry represented a particular form of late-colonial urban institution of the Netherlands Indies. This research will analyze the political-economy of urban land, its relationship with the rise of the credit market, including the commercial mortgage banks, and municipal land policy in pushing for a type of governance on urban land that is capitalistic and market based. This colonial governance based on cooperation between capital and local government resulted in resentment from Indonesians who felt threatened and left out. This resentment can be read in the municipal council meetings in which Indonesian nationalists voiced their concern. Independence and decolonization has resulted in the take-over of urban land and buildings either by the masses or the army. Municipalities had to adapt to this new condition which seems to have cut them from the real estate market and its money-generating ability. The research will look into how decolonization affected this institution in order to understand why Indonesian cities decolonized in the way that they did.