Social Media and Environmental Politics in Indonesia

Kristina Großmann of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Passau in Germany has a new article at JCA. “Social Media and the Successful Anti-Mining Campaign in Bangka, Indonesia” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1432675) examines the hotly debated topic of social media and political mobilisation.

The abstract states:

This article elaborates on the functionalities of Facebook and WhatsApp, and the possibilities and limitations of their usage in the anti-mining campaign in Bangka, Indonesia, with special focus on the participation and offline–online intertwining of communication processes. The research reported in this article contributes to a deeper understanding of the relationship between social media and political protest in the context of discriminatory natural resource extraction in Indonesia. In 2017, the alliance against the mining activities of the Chinese company PT Mikgro Metal Perdana in Bangka, which consisted of villagers, activists, tourism operators and divers, succeeded in ousting PT MMP from Bangka. Social media enhanced mobilisation, communication, knowledge transfer, transparency, and solidarity in this anti-mining campaign. Through WhatsApp, the rapid transmission of information and communication was facilitated when urgent action was needed. The Facebook group Save Bangka Island not only provided general information but also enhanced solidarity, cohesion and the creation of an “imagined community.” However, it is also found that social media sites are stratified spaces where villagers – the primary affected group – are excluded because of their lack of Internet access.

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