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Research project

From Clients to Citizens? Emerging Citizenship in Democratizing lndonesia

Democratic citizenship refers to the capacity and willingness of citizens to actively influence the functioning of state institutions. While considered a vital correlate of democratization and the rule of law, its largely western-oriented literature rarely studies the forms of democratic citizenship that emerge in the context of a weakly institutionalized state and a largely clientelistic political system. Citizenship is hardly studied in Southeast Asia, as the concept was long considered inadequate to describe the hierarchical and clientelistic relations that characterized much state-citizen interaction during and before the New Order. Yet the nature of Indonesia’s democratization process makes it necessary to go beyond the more common elite-focused research on Indonesian politics (e.g. SPIN2 project ‘In Search of Middle Indonesia’) to study the way citizenship is perceived and practiced by ordinary Indonesians. From Clients to Citizens? aims to understand the impact of Indonesia’s democratization process on everyday state-citizen interaction: to what extent is Indonesia’s democratic transition changing the way ordinary Indonesians relate to the state in terms of citizenship? How can we explain both the changes and the continuities?

Henk Schulte Nordholt
Leiden University-Institute for Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology Leiden University-Institute for Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology


(KITLV) Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies

Indonesian Counterpart: Gadjah Mada University

The C2C project includes the following PhD subproject being carried out by Zamzam Fauzanafi at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Patricia Spyer and Dr. Bart Barendregt:

Digital Citizenship and Indonesia’s anti-corruption campaign: New Forms of Public Action and Accountability?

This project investigates the ways in which digital/social media are deployed in internet-based campaigns against corruption and judicial failure. Indonesia has been especially enthusiastic in its embrace of communication technologies, boasting today the second largest number of Facebook users in the world and notable as well for the rapid proliferation of smart phone use across social classes. This rapidly increasing use of social media is shaping the way the public sphere is evolving in post-Suharto Indonesia, and might be promoting forms of civic engagements that weaken the importance of primordial affiliations and clientelistic relations in Indonesia’s politics. The overarching question of this project is how the avid and often creative use of digitalized media in anti-corruption campaigns contributes to the consolidation of a viable public sphere, the fostering and conceptualization of new forms of citizenship and collective action, and offersalternatives to and/or challenges the largely elite-driven politics of the country.


‘Intensive course “Researching Citizenship in Indonesia”’, held at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, 3-8 september 2012, brought together 30 mainly Indonesian participants. They included Indonesian applicants for the SPIN3 research program “From Clients to Citizens?”, and senior researchers in the program from Indonesia and the Netherlands

Program Kickoff workshop "From clients to citizens? Emerging citizenship in democratising Indonesia", held at KITLV, Leiden, 23-24 September 2013. This for the first time brought together those Clients to Citizens researchers already in the Netherlands at that time (including postdoctoral fellow Wolfram Schaffar).

Preliminary Program Kick-off workshop "Governance, Markets and Citizenship (SPIN3)", held at the NH Hotel, Jaarbeursplein 24, Utrecht, 25-27 September 2013.

Approximately monthly informal discussions on the theme of From Clients and Citizens? Held at KITLV in the months May-September 2013 and coordinated by research fellow Wolfram Schaffar. Each time introduced by another researcher, an open to all those associated with the research program.

Reading course – Postcolonial citizenship, held at University of Amsterdam, 5 weekly meetings each 90 minutes, for Indonesian PhD candidates, 4 November 2013 till 2 December 2013. The course was taught by Gerry van Klinken. Participants were asked to read as many as possible of the references in a draft introductory chapter for the forthcoming edited volume (Berenschot, Ward, and Henk Schulte Nordholt. forthcoming. "Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia: An Introduction." In Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia, edited by Ward Berenschot and Henk Schulte Nordholt). This involved approximately 500pages of reading. At each meeting participants discussed the reading of that week.

Graduate student conference on “Networks and Interaction”, co-organized by the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) and the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (CA-DS), May 2014

Participation in Projects and Practices of Anthropologist (PPA) PhD Workshops at Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Leiden University.

Conference on “ Social Media and the Transformation of Public Space”, June 18-20, 2014 at University of Amsterdam,

Summer workshop on ‘Digital Methods’ at Digital Methods Initiative, New Media & Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam.


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