Conflict over landownership in the postcolonial era: The case of eigendom land in Surabaya

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This article attempts to explore the controversy surrounding eigendom land (land owned under colonial state management rights) in Surabaya and its relations with the enforcement of the Basic Principles of Agrarian Law (BAL), in an effort to realize the ideals of the Republic of Indonesia—justice and prosperity for all people. The enactment of the BAL, which independently regulated land tenure and ownership, was a milestone in the autonomy of postcolonial Indonesia. One of the effects of the law was agrarian reform, which led to most eigendom land becoming tanah negara, or state-controlled land. This eigendom land has been used for public housing, though some consider such usage to deviate from the BAL. In recent years, the issue has led to conflict between settlers of eigendom land and the municipal government of Surabaya. This article concludes that the existence of eigendom land in the postcolonial era is a reality and its impact can be seen in the form of residents being driven to oppose the government. If the law were consistent with the BAL, there would be no land with eigendom status in Indonesia. The best hope for achieving justice and welfare for the people of Indonesia, in accordance with the goals of agrarian reform, is to convert the status of all eigendom land to the types of land rights determined by BAL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-94
Number of pages32
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Conflict
  • Eigendom
  • Land rights conversion
  • Ownership rights
  • Surabaya
  • Surat Ijo


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