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Jakarta’s Kampungs: Their History and Contested Future

  • Author(s): Irawaty, Dian Tri;
  • Advisor(s): Leitner, Helga M;
  • Sheppard, Eric S
  • et al.

This thesis aims to locate the kampung (urban village) within the broader mobilization of ‘slums’ as urban blight in Global South cities. Slums have been widely known as settlements with poor living conditions: comprising a lack of basic services, such as water, sanitation, drainage, waste collection, street lighting, and paved footpaths; as well as a lack of community space, schools, and clinics within easy reach. However, in Indonesian cities including Jakarta, the label of ‘the slum’ has been attached to the unique space of the ‘kampung’, which are densely populated areas of poor and working-class communities in the center and peripheries of the city. For decades, the kampung has been understood in a derogative way. Beginning in the Dutch era, kampungs have been identified as disorganized and relatively problematic space: a nest of disease, filth, and crime. The contested understanding of the kampung continued but the similar and misguided label of ‘the slum’ was added. I argue that the double stigma has strengthened the aspiration to “fix” the kampung through city beautification projects, that leads to massive forced evictions. These projects have reduced the number of kampungs and displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in the city – threatening the notion of the kampung as distinct settlement form and space of life in Indonesian cities.

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