Wening Udasmoro and Elisabeth Prügl discuss their chapter “‘No Matter What—I’ve Got Rights’: Women’s Land Grab Protests in Banyuwangi, East Java” published in the 13th thematic issue of International Development Policy ‘Gender in Peacebuilding: Local Practices in Indonesia and Nigeria‘. Wening Udasmoro is Professor of Literature and Gender at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Elisabeth Prügl is Professor of International Relations and Co-director of the Gender Centre at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland.
For the past twenty years, the residents of Wongsorejo in the East Java Regency of Banyuwangi have protested against the expropriation of their land, clashing sometimes violently with government and company forces, and today women lead this struggle against land grabbing. In this chapter, the authors interpret women’s participation in protest movements in the light of feminist understandings of peace as inherently agonistic and involving struggle. The authors trace a shift from male to female leadership in the anti-land grab protests in Wongsorejo, arguing that they empowered women to enact everyday citizenship. The authors also trace the way in which gender was deployed strategically in this shift and how it informed performances of identity. During the Reformasi era, men led the protests, but women supported them in a subversive appropriation of the ideology of Ibuism. Today this gender division of protest has shifted, in part based on the idea that putting women at the front will ensure that protests are less violent. But this has also enabled the political empowerment of women and raised their status in the household. The authors argue that the protests allowed women to establish themselves as rights-bearing citizens and as skilled politicians. As they renegotiate gender relations in their families and communities, their struggle over land rights becomes a struggle for recognition of a new kind of peace.
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