Publication Date

April 2016


Peter Rutland




English (United States)


In 2009, the Indonesian House of Representatives passed a groundbreaking piece of legislation allowing the state to assert greater control over the extractive industry. The most controversial aspect of the 2009 Mining Law took shape in January 2014, which effectively imposed a ban on the export of certain strategic raw minerals, such as nickel, bauxite, and copper. Responding to the lack of systematic intention given by the field of nationalism studies to economic processes within the country, this thesis strives to unravel the determinants of resource nationalism in post-authoritarian Indonesia. Recognizing that resource nationalism tend to be viewed from a narrow economistic perspective, this study seeks to bridge the gap between economic and political analyses by examining how economic considerations in the mining sector interact with national identity discourse following the authoritarian breakdown in 1998. The findings of this study suggest that resource nationalism, which is manifested in the wave of protectionist regulation in the Indonesian mining sector, is driven first and foremost by political concerns of the oligarchs who seek to protect their interests in the face of democratization. Meanwhile, popular support for resource nationalism in recent years should be understood as the product of nationalist outbidding among elites, both governing and non-governing, who seek to rally the masses and capture power. Resource nationalist rhetoric around mining is particularly salient in Indonesia because it directly appeals to the notion of national identity and plays into the narrative of exploitation which dominates the Indonesian collective imagination. Conflicts over the ownership of mining resources recently emerged as a growing concern for investors in the natural resources sector and this study fills the curious gap in academic literature by shifting the focus away from the traditional scholarly fixation on the oil and gas sector.

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