Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

William Ascher

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This thesis examines Dayak identity constructions and how they have been and are currently being used to assert customary land rights in forested areas of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Indonesian state has required that customary land claims include proof that communities have maintained their indigenous institutions. Drawing from government and NGO reports, academic research, and Indonesian law, a few questions thus are explored: What aspects of identity must be maintained in order to be sufficient to claim customary land rights under Indonesian law? How has recent Dayak mobilization fed into a resurgence in Dayak identity and pride, and vice versa? What opportunities does this hold for conservation and development? This thesis emphasizes the necessity of the subsequent transfer of ownership following the recognition of customary rights, which would protect indigenous land more permanently, increase Dayak community involvement and self-perceptions as active agents in forestry, and in doing so, aid in improving security of indigenous livelihoods and protecting biodiversity in Indonesia’s forests.