Minangkabau Social Formations

Indonesian Peasants and the World-Economy

In this anthropological investigation of the nature of an underdeveloped peasant economy, Joel S. Kahn attempts to develop the insights generated by Marxist theorists, by means of a concrete case study of a peasant village in the Indonesian province of West Sumatra. He accounts for the specific features of this regional economy, and, at the same time, examines the implications for it of the centuries-old European domination of Indonesia. The most striking feature of the Minangkabau economy is the predominance of petty commodity relations in agriculture, handicrafts and the local network of distribution. Dr Kahn illustrates this with material on local economic organization, which he collected in the field in the highland village of Sungai Puar, the site of a blacksmithing industry, and with published and unpublished data from other parts of Indonesia. Dr Kahn's book is unusual for its combination of a theoretical analysis of underdevelopment with a detailed regional study. It will appeal to those interested in South-east Asian studies, in development, and in neo-Marxist approaches in anthropology.