Economic Integration in Borderland: Anthropological research

This research is an in-depth study of borderlander community economic integration in Aji Kuning, Sebatik island, Nunukan regency, East Kalimantan province. The borderland is an area between Indonesia and Sabah, Malaysia. It focused on market as a transaction arena and economic relationship related to social, politics, culture and ethnic issues. Aji Kuning market has already more integrated with international market (Malaysia especially).

Aji Kuning village in paradoxical situation, one side is a remote and poor villages of Indonesia, on the other side is close to Sabah-Malaysia. Sabah have socio-economic condition better than Nunukan regency, which open up opportunities for rural communities to enable the potential socio-cultural resources for their socialwelfare. The social reality in my research quickly led me to a phenomenon known as economic integration. I have been inspired by Clifford Geertz on typology research community in Java. He found three core social structure, the villages, markets and government bureaucracies that reflect the cultures of three types: abangan, students and the officers.

Border market was described as a market which the transaction process is taken place at anytime, anywhere, sometimes it needs a place but it usually happened without any physically place. Aji Kuning community market was identified as a traditional market that has a free trade whereas maximized and profit orientations are the main point. Aji Kuning community economic activity not merely influence the economic dimension but also related to other dimensions especially culture, relationship and ethnic. It was built in a network. Ethnic identity as a culture identity is contextual and it depends on economic interest and benefit. The related countries especially the local politic institutions provide more opportunity to the borderlander developing a flexible market for borderland trade regulation.

It was found that the borderlander build the economic network as a social solidarity formation for economic resources benefit. Social networking is a set of special relationships or specific formed between a group of people, which these relationship characteristics can be used to interpret the motives of the social behavior of the people involved. This research context is the common economic interests by setting the observation stems from the Aji Kuning market. Observations on ethnic identity and its utilization in the network economy, emphasis on the interaction of ethnic groups in economic activity in all networks based on the commodities are traded.

Observation of the networks concluded that the borderline market is loaded with social interactions. There are arena of cultural activity and political expression, the network information flow. It is also the center of community interaction with the social diversity, economic, ethnic and religious, as well as the combined culture group which are clash, collaborate, collude, compete and conflict. Strategies across borderlinders becomes a rational choice, and that people often use their dual nationality to sustain the trade across borders. In this case, politics became the economic development facility. On the other hand, without economic power, the politic authority will not be long-lasting.

Keywords: Borderland, Market, Ethnicity, Networks, Local Political

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Comment by endang rudiatin on December 23, 2012 at 12:44pm

Keith, Thank's alot for your suggestion, it's a good idea. Mc Ceery; The three elements that reflect the culture of the market is the interaction between the seller and the buyer; local political culture, which is related to the behavior of local bureaucrats to markets, and rural culture that has been tied up in the border. formed by the physical distance to the central government and organized continuous process towards transnational

Comment by Keith Hart on December 19, 2012 at 2:44am

It's great to see you posting this here. I have substantive questions, but first have you got material on informal trade and border crossing? You might consider submitting a proposal for a paper to this conference.

Comment by John McCreery on December 18, 2012 at 7:44am
A very interesting case. Good to see someone revisiting Geertz's analysis. I am curious, did you find anything that suggests a need to modify the original typology, the emergence of a new social category?

Also, one small suggestion, strictly an English usage issue. I would replace "borderline" with "cross-border." The most common usage of "borderline" may be "borderline psychotic," pointing to a condition that is almost, but not quite very bad. I don't think that this is what you are trying to imply by your use of "borderline," but some readers may find it confusing.


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