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Poor migrants in Bandung: settlement and employment

By M.M. van Bruinessen


Sukapakir is the real but appropriate name of a poor urban kampung in southwestern Bandung. It is one of the most densely\ud populated neighbourhoods of the town now, although some forty years ago it was still a largely rural district. On the fringes of\ud Sukapakir, one finds even today a few sawah fields, planted with kangkung (a sort of spinach) and watered by the little streams\ud that function as drains and into which various industries and thousands of households have deposited their waste. Another little\ud plot of sawah, surrounded on all sides by dense habitation but unused because of a legal conflict, has been turned into a garbage\ud heap, adding at once color and desolation to the neighbourhood. There are no other open spaces left, apart from where houses\ud have recently been torn down to make place for a new road. The houses are very densely packed; hardly any space remains\ud unused. Only two or three houses still have a tree and a few plants in front, otherwise there is no greenery left. What used to be\ud front- or backyards have also been built over; some houses moreover have a makeshift second floor added to them, something\ud uncommon in Bandung. The average house, initially built for one family, now lodges three to four households. Not surprisingly,\ud three out of four adults living here are immigrants to Bandung; most of the remaining fourth, the children of immigrants. Most\ud of them originate from various parts of West Java, much smaller numbers from Central Java and Sumatra. Their arrivals were in\ud many cases directly connected with the political and economic upheavals of the past half century. Sukapakir is like a living\ud museum of West Java's social history of the past half century, as seen from the lower rungs of the social ladder. Its people's life\ud histories exemplify the successes, and especially the failures of Indonesia's development programmes

Topics: Letteren
Year: 1989
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