Where Will the Water Go?
The issues of banjir—flooding—have increasingly received attention in a variety of fields, and Jakarta has been a primary case study. Existing studies have significantly contributed to an understanding of the inadequate institutional, organizational, and individual capacities for flood management in a city that is expanding rapidly. They also point to universal forces that exacerbate flooding, such as urbanization and climate change. This essay explores the multifaceted dimensions of banjir, such as how it is culturally perceived, understood, and managed; how it is implicated in knowledge and power; and how it becomes a form of “governmentality” that nevertheless produces critical consciousness among the public about environmental crisis. It emphasizes the productive failure of technology that shapes a particular form of government that is at once uncontrolled and yet responsible for structuring people’s lives and influencing state priorities. In the uncoordinated “absent presence” of infrastructure, banjir allows for the possibility of exchange among people, power, and money.
Volume & Issue:
Page range: 19-51
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program