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Which Order? Whose Order? Balinese Irrigation Management in Sulawesi, Indonesia


  • Dik Roth


This paper deals with irrigation management among Balinese migrant settlers in Sulawesi, Indonesia. As settlers in the command area of a state-built irrigation system, they have become part of its blueprinted managerial structure. However, many settlers derived their experience from subak, the Balinese irrigators' institution. This paper explores the technical, organizational and normative complexity hidden behind claims of order, manageability and control of a “modern” irrigation system, examining three issues that illustrate the tension between order and disjuncture. First, it criticizes conceptualizations of local management as cycles of degradation by farmer neglect and rehabilitation by government attention. Second, it traces the local history of irrigation development by putting into perspective the assumption of normative, technical and organizational uniformity on which the management structure is based. Third, differences are discussed between engineering approaches to management and Balinese conceptualizations of management, and their consequences for management practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Dik Roth, 2006. "Which Order? Whose Order? Balinese Irrigation Management in Sulawesi, Indonesia," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 31-46.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:34:y:2006:i:1:p:31-46
    DOI: 10.1080/13600810500495956

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