Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Ethnicized violence in Indonesia: Where criminals and fanatics meet

Brown, D. and Wilson, I.D. (2007) Ethnicized violence in Indonesia: Where criminals and fanatics meet. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 13 (3). pp. 367-403.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


Ethnic gang violence is often depicted as a clash between criminals pursuing instrumental advantage or as one between ideological fanatics pursuing collective nationalist, ethnolinguistic, or ethnoreligious rights. However, there is an apparent tension between the conceptualization of such violence as the rational self-interest of deprived individuals, and as the irrational fanaticism of anomic communities. The examination of one particular ethnic gang, the Betawi Brotherhood Forum which operates in Jakarta, Indonesia, indicates how both dimensions of violence coexist and interweave. The apparent analytical tension between individualistic pragmatism and collectivist moral absolutism is resolved by showing how the gang responds to their disillusionment with the state by constructing for themselves a "state proxy" role. This response is portrayed as based upon "ressentiment" - the "faulty rationality" which marginalized individuals adopt so as to translate their clashes of material self-interests into the moral conflict between stereotyped communities - the virtuous ethnic Us against the demonized ethnic Other.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Routledge
Item Control Page Item Control Page