The Newsletter 52 Winter 2009

National politics, local contexts

Dirk Tomsa

Vel, Jacqueline A.C. 2008. Uma Politics: An Ethnography of Democratization in West Sumba, Indonesia, 1986-2006. Leiden: KITLV Press. 277 pages. ISBN: 978 90 6718 324 6

Jacqueline Vel’s book provides a comprehensive account of socio-political developments in one of the most understudied regions of Eastern Indonesia. Based on extensive fieldwork over the last 20 years, Vel describes how changes in national politics have affected the conduct of local politics in West Sumba, a small district in East Nusa Tenggara province. With its broad temporal scope and its great attention to ethnographic detail, it will be an important reference for scholars working on Eastern Indonesia. However, it should be noted that a significant amount of the material presented in this book is actually not new (some data is based on fieldwork in the 1980s) and several chapters or parts thereof have already been published elsewhere.

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