(Re)configurations of belonging: Shadow citizenship and negotiations over state sanctions in Indonesia and Vietnam

Authors: Noelani Eidse*, McGill University, Melody Lynch, University of Melbourne
Topics: Asia, Political Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: Informality, everyday politics of exclusion, governmentality, ethnography, participatory methods, Global South, Indonesia, Vietnam.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Our paper investigates the coherences and contradictions between governance and livelihood
strategies in two Southeast Asian locales: Hanoi, Vietnam and Wakatobi, Indonesia. In both cases,
the states’ narrow visions of ‘order’ and ‘progress’ are inherently exclusionary. In Hanoi, official state
narratives present street vending as ‘anti-modern’ and out of place in the cityscape. Notably, Hanoi’s
2008 vending ban has sought to render informal vendors ‘absent’ from the urban landscape while
simultaneously prioritizing ‘modern’, vehicle-centric mobilities. Concurrently, in Wakatobi, state
policies reimagine the region as a ‘pristine’ tourist destination, obscuring small-scale fishers who resist
in novel ways (Deneven 1992; Kerkvliet 2009). As such, our paper interrogates state-led governance
strategies—aimed at redefining space—as exclusionary tools that implicitly reshape everyday
experiences of belonging.

Based on 18 and 10 months’ fieldwork in Hanoi and Wakatobi, respectively—using
interviews, photovoice, and solicited diaries—this paper explores state-citizen negotiations, framed
according to the impacts of policy on lived experiences of ‘presence’ and ‘absence’. Drawing on
social spatialisations, citizenship and mobilities, and everyday politics of exclusion, we investigate
nuanced power dynamics underpinning uneven recognition of group rights, and experiences of
belonging and alienation (Cresswell 2013; Ribot and Peluso 2003). We argue that governance
strategies aimed at repurposing the use of space simultaneously reaffirm selected presence while
relegating ‘shadow citizens’ to the fringe (Cresswell 2009). Yet, state-led efforts to reimagine
landscapes—and citizenship—are challenged in everyday ways.

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