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Learning resistance in West Timor

Karen Janelle Campbell-Nelson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This case study, set in the south central highlands of West Timor, Indonesia, presents a range of strategies used by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local farmers to resist the mining of two marble peaks. The narrative, set within the context of political developments in Indonesia in recent years, is presented through several genres to enhance an ethnographic exploration of learning in a context of resistance. Some of the issues explored in the telling of the tale include gender and resistance, and the juxtaposition of NGO and farmer strategies of resistance as shaped by their different relationships to social and political institutions of the nation-state. The study, however, is not limited only to a discussion of strategies, the “what and how” of resistance—resistance as curriculum—but also looks at resistance as a learning regime, the heuristic occasion for the articulation of identity in which those on the underside of power assert human identity over an identity as victims. The analysis of resistance as learning regime draws on a local hermeneutical framework that situates recognition as a response to the epistemological violation inherent in the mining, rehearsal as response to cultural violation, and reciprocity as a response to economic violation. This privileging of recognition, rehearsal, and reciprocity is the perspective from which I argue that subsistence agriculture is a way of life that integrates rather than separates cultural, ecological, economic, and epistemological aspects of identity. As such, it is a viable alternative to projects of unsustainable economic development, such as mining marble, that tear apart ecological systems and the ways of life embedded in those systems in order to control them.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Business costs|Political science

Recommended Citation

Campbell-Nelson, Karen Janelle, "Learning resistance in West Timor" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3078672.