Photographer: Laurens Bakker

dr. L.G.H. (Laurens) Bakker

  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Programme group: Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas
  • Visiting address
    REC BC
    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166  Amsterdam
    Room number: B5.07
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  15509
    1001 NA  Amsterdam

Laurens Bakker is assistant professor at the Department of Anthropology. He works on questions of governance, law and justice with a focus on land use, resource conflict, discourses of authority and non-state violence. Most of his research is focused on Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia. At present he is program leader for “State of Anxiety:  A Comparative Ethnography of ‘Security Groups’ in Indonesia” (funded by NWO-ESRC) and participates as a researcher in the program "Gulf-State Concessions in Indonesia and the Philippines: Contested Control of Agricultural Land and Foodcrops" (funded by NWO-WOTRO).

At present, Laurens carries out research along two main lines of interest. The first concerns (international) investors’ considerations as to (not) invest in Indonesia. This line explores global notions of ‘good’ investment projects and ethics, Indonesian national attraction of foreign capital, and the ‘local arena’ in which investors, workers, government, NGOs and bosses negotiate deals. The second line is on the political, economic, social and legal influence of organized, non-government militias in regional Indonesia. Disciplined, organized, and willing to (threaten) violence, these groups are positioned in the grey zone between legality and illegality, state and non-state, populism and crime. Departing from this position they engage in politics, business, trade and such social issues as questions of migration, employment, indigenous rights and nationalism.

Laurens received his Ph.D. in 2009 from the Radboud University Nijmegen, where he worked at the Institute of Anthropology and Development Studies and at the Institute for the Sociology of Law. While at the latter, he participated in research projects on specialized courts of law in the Netherlands and asylum seekers’ perspectives on Dutch asylum procedures, and was lead researcher in projects on sharia law in the Netherlands and the role of mediation in conflicts between citizens and municipal councils. At the Institute of Anthropology he divided his time between teaching and writing his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Who Owns the Land? Looking for Law and Power in East Kalimantan”. Which is available from the Radboud University repository here.


The 'State of Anxiety' project is a collaboration with Lee Wilson (University of Queensland, previously Cambridge University) funded by NWO and the ESRC that began in November 2009 and studies local security groups in Jakarta, Bali, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. The project investigates the political and economic influence these groups wield within their domains, their relationships with elements of the police and military as well local networks of criminality. A particular focus of the research is local conceptions of safety and threat, the ways insecurity figures in the affirmation of difference and processes of identification. How do these discourses of insecurity both facilitate political agency and exacerbate identity-based conflict between groups?

Under the rule of President Soeharto's New Order, 'security' was a central tenet of nationalist political imaginaries. While the New Order was able to forcefully maintain order, disorder and instability were its constant companions (Day 2002), a means of justifying violent intervention and oppression. Post New Order, decentralization and regional autonomy have facilitated the burgeoning growth of sites of non-state authority throughout Indonesia. Civil militias, community organizations and NGOs are just some of the many kinds of non-state agents whose authority contests or exceeds that of the state within their domains. Claiming to preserve the safety of their local communities, common to these sites of localized authority are familiar discourses of exclusion and territorial control that are often cited as the hallmark of sovereign relations in modernity. Custom and tradition, often linked to the issue of control of land and natural  resources, are offered as principles of local governance and a countervailing force to the authority of the state.

In exploring these issues we seek to establish the structural factors and processes of identification pertinent to the mobilization and manipulation of ethnic, religious or political identities in the respective field sites. The broader relevance of this research will be explored with respect to identity-based conflict elsewhere in Indonesia, and comparatively in other post-authoritarian contexts.



  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2017). Lynching, Public Violence and the Internet in Indonesia. In M. Pfeifer (Ed.), Global Lynching and Collective Violence: Volume 1: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. (pp. 10-33). University of Illinois Press. [details]
  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2017). Militias, Security and Citizenship in Indonesia. In W. berenschot, H. Schulte Nordholt, & L. Bakker (Eds.), Citizenship and Democratization in Southeast Asia. (pp. 125-154). Leiden: Brill. [details]
  • Bakker, L. G. H., & Nooteboom, G. (2017). Anthropology and Inclusive Development. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 24(1), 63-67. [details]
  • Berenschot, W., Schulte Nordholt, H., & Bakker, L. G. H. (2017). Introduction: Citizenship and Democratization in Postcolonial Southeast Asia. In W. Berenschot, H. Schulte Nordholt, & L. Bakker (Eds.), Citizenship and Democratization in Southeast Asia. (pp. 1-30). Leiden: Brill. [details]


  • Bakker, L. (2016). Organized Violence and the State: Evolving Vigilantism in Indonesia. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 172(2-3), 249-277. DOI: 10.1163/22134379-17202001 [details] [PDF]
  • Bakker, L. (2016). Perceiving Neoliberalism beyond Jakarta. In M. Haug, M. Rössler, & A-T. Grumblies (Eds.), Rethinking Power Relations in Indonesia: Transforming the Margins. (pp. 117-131). (Routledge Contemporary Southeast Asia Series; Vol. 82). London: Routledge. [details]
  • Wilson, L., & Bakker, L. (2016). Cutting off the King's head: security and normative order beyond the state. Conflict, Security & Development, 16(4), 289-300. DOI: 10.1080/14678802.2016.1200311 [details]


  • Bakker, L. (2015). Illegality for the general good? Vigilantism and social responsibility in contemporary Indonesia. Critique of Anthropology, 35(1), 78-93. DOI: 10.1177/0308275X14557092 [details]
  • Bakker, L., & Reerink, G. (2015). Indonesia's land acquisition law: Towards effective prevention of land grabbing? In C. Carter, & A. Harding (Eds.), Land grabs in Asia: what role for the law? (pp. 83-99). (Routledge contemporary Asia; No. 52). London/New York: Routledge. [details]


  • Bakker, L., & Timmer, J. (2014). Justice in Indonesia: the social life of a momentous concept. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15(4), 293-301. DOI: 10.1080/14442213.2014.922122 [details]
  • Nooteboom, G., & Bakker, L. (2014). Beyond the Gulf State investment hype: the case of Indonesia and the Philippines. In M. Kaag, & A. Zoomers (Eds.), The global land grab: beyond the hype (pp. 170-184). London: Zed Books. [details]
  • Semedi, P., & Bakker, L. (2014). Between land grabbing and farmers' benefits: land transfers in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15(4), 376-390. DOI: 10.1080/14442213.2014.928741 [details]
  • Farhan, F., & Bakker, L. (2014). Fragmentasi Institusi Atau Kolaborasi? Sabuah Pelajaran dari Tripa, Aceh. In L. Bakker, & Y. Fristikawati (Eds.), Permasalahan Kehutanan di Indonesia dan Kaitannya dengan Perubahan Iklim Serta REDD+ (pp. 221-240). Yogyakarta: Penerbit Pohon Cahaya. [details] [PDF]


  • Bakker, L. (2013). Philippines. In L. Stan, & N. Nedelsky (Eds.), Encyclopedia of transitional justice. - Vol. 2 (pp. 377-383). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2013). Vietnam. In L. Stan, & N. Nedelsky (Eds.), Encyclopedia of transitional justice. - Vol. 2 (pp. 509-514). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [details]


  • Bakker, L., & Crain, J. (2012). Trade, transnationalism and ethnic infighting: borders of authority in Northeast Borneo. In B. Kalir, & M. Sur (Eds.), Transnational flows and permissive polities: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia (pp. 109-126). (IIAS publications series; No. 7). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. [details]


  • Bakker, L. (2011). Ideals that don’t make money. Inside Indonesia, 106[details]
  • Bakker, L. (2011). In and Out of the Newspapers: Ethnic Land Claims and the Regional Press in East Kalimantan. In T. J. Conners, F. Dhont, M. C. Hoadley, & A. D. Tyson (Eds.), Social justice and rule of law: addressing the growth of a pluralist Indonesian democracy (pp. 451-473). Semarang: Diponegoro University. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2011). Pengantar: Akses terhadap keadilan atas tanah. In W. Berenschot, A. Bedner, E. R. Laggut-Terre, & D. Novirianti (Eds.), Akses terhadap keadilan: perjuangan masyarakat miskin dan kurang beruntung untuk menuntut hak di Indonesia (pp. 39-52). (Seri sosio-legal Indonesia). Jakarta: HuMa. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2011). Sharia en geschillenbeslechting binnen de Nederlandse rechtsorde. In H. Broeksteeg, & A. Terlouw (Eds.), Overheid, recht en religie (pp. 337-350). (Serie Staat en recht; No. 5). Deventer: Kluwer. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2011). Shariarechtspraak in Nederland: realiteit of fictie? Recht van de Islam, 25, 47-58. [details] [PDF]


  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2010). "Dapatkah kami memperoleh hak ulayat?" Tanah dan masyarakat di Kabupaten Paser dan Nunukan, Kalimantan Timur. In M. Safitri, & T. Moeliono (Eds.), Hukum Agraria dan Masyarakat di Indonesia. (pp. 183-212). Jakarta: HuMa, Van Vollenhoven Institute, KITLV. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2010). Stone age careerists? Tourism and labour specialization in Siberut. In H. de Jonge, & T. van Meijl (Eds.), On the subject of labour: essays in memory of Frans Hüsken (pp. 166-170). Nijmegen: In de Walvis. [details]
  • Bakker, L., & Moniaga, S. (2010). The space between: land claims and the law in Indonesia. Asian Journal of Social Science, 38(2), 187-203. DOI: 10.1163/156853110X490890 [details]
  • Bakker, L., Nooteboom, G., & Rutten, R. (2010). Localities of Value: Ambiguous Access to Land and Water in Southeast Asia. Asian Journal of Social Science, 38(2), 167-171. DOI: 10.1163/156853110X490872 [details]


  • Bakker, L. G. H., & Wilson, L. (2016). Conflict, Security & Development (vol. 16, issue 4). Conflict, Security & Development, 16(4). [details]


  • Bakker, L. G. H., & Timmer, J. (2014). Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology (vol. 15, issue 4). Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 15(4). [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2014). Pendahuluan. In L. Bakker, & Y. Fristikawati (Eds.), Permasalahan Kehutanan di Indonesia dan Kaitannya dengan Perubahan Iklim Serta REDD+ (pp. vii-xiii). Yogyakarta: Penerbit Pohon Cahaya. [details] [PDF]


  • Bakker, L. G. H., Nooteboom, G., & Rutten, R. A. (2010). Asian Journal of Social Science (vol. 38, issue 2). Asian Journal of Social Science, 38(2). [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2010). Kalabubu, neck ornament. In P. Benitez-Johannot (Ed.), Paths of origins: the Austronesian heritage in the collections of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museum Nasional Indonesia and the Netherlands Rijksmuseum voor Völkenkunde (pp. 188-189). Manilla: ArtPostAsia. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2010). Koraibi, shield. In P. Benitez-Johannot (Ed.), Paths of origins: the Austronesian heritage in the collections of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museum Nasional Indonesia and the Netherlands Rijksmuseum voor Völkenkunde (pp. 210-211). Manilla: ArtPostAsia. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2010). Si tölu bagi, stone seat with three lasara heads. In P. Benitez-Johannot (Ed.), Paths of origins: the Austronesian heritage in the collections of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museum Nasional Indonesia and the Netherlands Rijksmuseum voor Völkenkunde (pp. 192-193). Manilla: ArtPostAsia. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2010). Töla gasa, shell armlet. In P. Benitez-Johannot (Ed.), Paths of origins: the Austronesian heritage in the collections of the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museum Nasional Indonesia and the Netherlands Rijksmuseum voor Völkenkunde (pp. 190-191). Manilla: ArtPostAsia. [details]


  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2016). Case studies getypeerd: de kracht van het specifieke [Bespreking van: Gary Thomas, Kevin Myers (2015) The Anatomy of the Case Study]. KWALON, 3(21), 61-64. [details]
  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2016). Michele Ford and Thomas B. Pepinsky, eds. Beyond Oligarchy: Wealth, Power and Contemporary Indonesian Politics. Ithaca: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications, 2014, x+178p. Southeast Asian Studies, 5(3), 575. [details]


  • Bakker, L., & Schouwenaars, C. (2013). Onderzoeksrapport Mediation bij de Overheid: Conflictdiagnose en geschiloplossing op maat bij conflicten tussen burgers en overheden. Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. [details]
  • Bakker, L., & Schouwenaars, C. (2013). Rapport Pilot Mediation Achterhoek: Pilotstudie naar de ‘verplichte’ toepassing van mediation in conflicten tussen burgers en bestuursorganen. Nijmegen: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. [details]


  • Bakker, L. G. H. (2011). [Review of: D. Pospíšilová, I. Hladká (2010) Pavel Durdik (1843-1903): life and work; ethnological collection of the Island of Nias]. Annals of the Náprstek Museum, 32, 139-140. [details]
  • Bakker, L. (2011). [Review of: M. Haug (2010) Poverty and decentralisation in East Kalimantan: the impact of regional autonomy on Dayak Benuaq wellbeing]. Anthropos, 106(1), 250-251. [details]


  • Nooteboom, G. (organiser) & Bakker, L.G.H. (organiser) (20-6-2014): 6th Southeast Asia Update, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (organiser) (2012): organised the 4th Southeast Asia Update, Radboud University Nijmegen (organising a conference, workshop, ...).

Keynote / Invited lecture

  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (19-11-2013): Hard-Fisted Piety: Christian Militias in the Minahasa, Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Lecture Series, Sophia University Tokyo.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (14-6-2012): ‘Hard-fisted piety: Christian militias in the Minahasa’, conference Militias, Religion and the Legitimation of Violence in Southeast Asia., National University of Singapore.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (24-1-2012): ‘Shariarechtbanken en Geschiloplossing’, Symposium Islamitisch Recht of the European Law Students’ Association, Erasmus Universiteit, Rotterdam.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (speaker) (8-6-2012): ‘Land and Resources in East Kalimantan. Competing Voices, Competing Claims’, The Asia Foundation research seminar.
  • Nooteboom, G. (invited speaker) & Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (1-10-2012): Why Gulf State Investments did not materialise in Indonesia and The Philippines, seminar Beyond the Landgrab Hype. Landac Utrecht, Utrecht.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (11-11-2011): 'gemeentemediation als beslisproces tussen burger en overheid’, the Fourth Yearly Congress of the Vereniging voor Gemeentemediation, Zwolle.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (12-5-2011): ‘Extractive Industries, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights in Indonesia’, Norwegian Center for Human Rights, University of Oslo,.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (22-7-2011): ‘State of Anxiety: A Comparative Ethnography of ‘Security groups’ in Indonesia’, Universitas Sam Ratulangi, Manado, Indonesia.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (25-10-2011): ‘Gaining Ground in Balikpapan. Non-government actor strategies and the politics of violence in land conflict’, Kölner Ethnologische Kolloquium, University of Cologne.
  • Bakker, L.G.H. (invited speaker) (28-11-2011): ‘Conservation and Exploitation: local responses to global developments’, the Sixth Open Science Meeting, Jakarta.

Book editor

  • Berenschot, W., Schulte Nordholt, H., & Bakker, L. G. H. (2017). Citizenship and Democratization in Southeast Asia. Leiden: Brill. [details]
  • Bakker, L., & Fristikawati, Y. (2014). Permasalahan Kehutanan di Indonesia dan Kaitannya dengan Perubahan Iklim Serta REDD+. Yogyakarta: Penerbit Pohon Cahaya. [details] [PDF]
This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications.
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