ANU Research School of Asia and the Pacific / PSC Seminar
Date & time
Observers increasingly describe Indonesia as a country where €˜resource nationalism' is on the rise. Legislative change and judicial disputes in Indonesia's mining and oil and gas sectors have taken on a distinctly nationalist character over the past decade. The term €˜resource nationalism' refers, in the broadest sense, to the expansion of state control over natural resource sectors at the expense of foreign investors. It is used to link patterns of protectionism and anti-foreign mobilisation in resource rich countries around the world. But there is ongoing debate about what drives resource nationalism from country to country. Some analysts emphasise that nationalist policies are about developing more just systems of rent distribution. Others argue that nationalist practices only serve the vested interests of state elites.
This study investigates whether resource nationalism in Indonesia is driven principally by the logic of redistribution, or the logic of rent seeking. It will compare nationalist practices in different sectors of Indonesia's resource economy: palm oil in the plantation sector, mineral and coal mining, and the oil and gas sectors. A comparative political economy of these sectors will reveal the varied patterns of political coalition building, rent seeking and ideological mobilisation that drive resource nationalism in each case. The goal is to identify the interests and ideas that shape systems of rent extraction and distribution within the highly profitable, but rapidly depleting, natural resource sectors of Southeast Asia's largest economy. A study of resource nationalism in Indonesia can also provide a window into the relationship between private capital and the state apparatus, and demonstrate how power is organised and how policies are created in contemporary Indonesia.