The political ecology of Indonesia: A case study of a fishing village in Sumatra

May Tan Mullins

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Indonesia's coastal region shows impacts of population pressure and development in more ways than just marine resource depletion. This paper looks at human-environment interactions from a political ecology perspective and focuses on the unequal power relations between different actors at the local level and how external events alter these power relations. Marine resource management will be examined through a case study of how access to such resources is determined in the village of Mendahara Ilir (Jambi, Sumatra). After national environmental laws have been summarised, examples are given to illustrate how the effectiveness of these laws is constrained by local sociocultural conditions. Two major questions concerning who and what determines control over, and access to, resources at a village level are explored. In addition, the impacts of wider economic and ecological circumstances on the local context are assessed. Two external events-the financial crisis and the global phenomenon of El Niño-are discussed with a view to their impacts on local structures of control over, and access to, resources. This paper argues that human-environment interactions and the politicisation of the environment will only be understood clearly by looking at the unequal power relations between actors at various levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-175
Number of pages13
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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