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Master of Science (M.S.)

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This thesis examines land reclamation as an increasingly significant form of land grabbing and control. Its focus is coastal reclamation in south Bali, Indonesia, particularly in and near the culturally, economically, and ecologically important Benoa Bay. Like elsewhere in Asia and around the world, the remaking of landscapes and seascapes in Indonesia through reclamation has numerous, interconnected material, ecological, and social impacts. In south Bali, coral, mangrove, and seagrass meadows have been degraded, fishers’ livelihoods decimated, and communities’ spiritual and other connections to place disrupted. Benoa is a particularly productive case to analyze, as there have been instances of both historical and recent reclamation projects, as well as a proposed mega-project that has successfully been resisted for nearly a decade. The thesis seeks to make multiple contributions in analyzing reclamation, primarily in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. First, despite its quickening pace and widening extent, there is a need for greater empirical attention to reclamation’s spatiality and its entwined social, ecological, and material effects. This case study is attentive to the historical and conjunctural specificities of Bali (including the tourist-centric economy that provides capital with unique imaginaries and circulations for a spatial fix and the Balinese-Hinduism that subtends legal pluralism), but also attempts to trace trends and dynamics of reclamation more widely. Second, examining reclamation as an assemblage enables us to better understand its political economy, by identifying the many financial, technological, legal, discursive and other elements that must be made to cohere. Analyzing cases of resistance, or other failures to cohere, reveal potential weak seams and chokepoints in reclamation’s assemblage. Third, analysis of reclamation enables us to see reclaimed land as “manufactured,” and different not just theoretically from emplaced land, but distinct in its behaviors. Manufactured land behaves like a true (not pseudo) commodity. Seeing land in a commodity chain further reveals its political economy as well as opportunities to disrupt its manufacture.


First Advisor

Stanley F. Stevens

Second Advisor

Piper R. Gaubatz

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, March 01, 2023