Institutional Complexity Around Locally Managed Marine Area: A Situation Analysis Of “The Bajau” Sea Oriented Communities in Wakatobi 

Author : Wengki ARIANDO1, Abdul MANAN, Jonthon COULSON, Narumon ARUNOTAI


The complexity of institutional issues that cross sectors and borders in natural resource management determines how a community entity might persist and endure. In Bajau communities, institutional supports are portrayed as impediments to carrying out their seaoriented cultural activities. This research explores how institutional support intersects with Bajau community activities in a locally managed marine area. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews were conducted in the Wakatobi Regency of Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, to generate descriptive data into portrayals of institutional supports and impediments. However, the Bajau cultural governance system shows signs of degradation due to several factors. The complex customary system and multi-scale governance that overlap in the marine and coastal areas of Wakatobi dissuade the Bajau from consenting to the implementation of locally managed marine areas. Instead of migrating or preserving their customary system, the Bajau encounter contemporary challenges within intercultural conflicts, rapid population growth, stigmatisation, and acculturation. Consequently, new ways of theorising about Bajau indigeneity, communal property rights, local knowledge recognition, and new policies for settling the intricacy of institutional and cultural interrelations are urgently needed.

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