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How to Prove You are Not a Squatter: Appropriating Space and Marking Presence in Jakarta

Chapter in book
Authors Jörgen Hellman
Published in Yves Cabannes, Mike Douglass, and Rita Padawangi (eds), Cities in Asia by and for the People.
Pages 41-68
ISBN 9789462985223
Publisher Amsterdam University Press
Place of publication Amsterdam
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology
Pages 41-68
Language en
Keywords commons, squatter, Jakarta, kampung, neighbourhood, floods
Subject categories Social Anthropology


In Margaret Everett’s notes on the urban poor in Colombia, she observes that ‘the threat of eviction makes people reluctant to invest labor and resources in their homes’ (Everett 1999, 1). Tunas and Peresthu (2010, 315) report from Jakarta that, ‘Without security of tenure, the inhabitants of informal settlements are reluctant to invest in improvements to their living conditions’. They continue by emphasizing, ‘Without clear legal status regarding land, the residents will never be encouraged to upgrade either the housing or the living environment’ (Tunas and Peresthu 2010, 320). However, these observations differ significantly from my experience of working in informal neighbourhoods on urban river banks in central Jakarta where tenure security is weak. Although they were exposed to both annual flooding and constant threats of eviction, the residents were persistent in renovating and extending their houses and improving their environment. In this chapter I address this apparent paradox by discussing the strategies used by squatters to secure ownership of their houses and transform squatter areas into recognized neighbourhoods.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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