International Development Planning Review

Reform, resistance and empowerment: constructing the public city from the grassroots in Jakarta, Indonesia

International Development Planning Review (2014), 36, (1), 33–50.

Abstract

The spectacle of demonstrations in urban streets and squares often captures more attention than the actual changes that follow. How do social movements construct public spaces that are coherent with the public sphere? What kind of physical spaces are needed to sustain spaces of resistance? This paper revisits Castells' city and the grassroots, along with the notions of the right to the city and alternative development. Three cases in Jakarta will be featured to demonstrate how grassroots activism in the city transforms along with urban spaces. The activists' retreat from protests to micro-activities within communities such as neighbourhood improvements and socio-economic training reflects the consciousness to improve material conditions, without which the reform would be incomplete. Spaces of resistance require continuous grassroots activism that directly impacts the human condition, beyond post-revolution abstract notions of social and political reform.

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Padawangi, Rita