This paper analyses the campaign to establish a new administrative territory in Indonesia, East Sulawesi province, in the context of decentralisation and calls for regional autonomy that have arisen following the end of the Suharto regime. The campaign for the new province occurred at the same time as a series of communal conflicts in one of its oldest districts, Poso, which broke out in response to the demographic and territorial changes brought about by decentralisation and the new opportunities it offered. This paper argues, however, that while the campaign to establish the new province may have grown out of these existing ethno-religious tensions in Poso district and Central Sulawesi Province, the new politics emerging with the push for creation of East Sulawesi are primarily political and territorial, with ethnicity and religion taking only peripheral roles. The campaign therefore represents the politics of transcending group boundaries to obtain territorial sovereignty for remote and marginalised districts and illustrates the possibility of enhancing civic nationalism at the local level.
CRISE Working Paper 56, 22 pp.