Human Rights Book Salon: Christian Lund - "Nine-Tenths of the Law: Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia"

Virtual Thursday, Feb 17, 2022 12 – 1:30 pm Register


Join the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights for another Human Rights Book Salon!

Christian Lund will discuss his book, Nine-Tenths of the Law: Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia (Yale University Press) in a talk titled "An Air of Legality".

Land rights are uneven in Indonesia as they favor government over citizens rights. Moreover, legal complexity and social inequality make legal knowledge about land rights relatively inaccessible to small-scale farmers and the urban rank and file. Finally, the presumption of legality enables government institutions to acquire land and establish land control even if juridical settlements have been made against it.

Despite these three forms of rightlessness, law and legislation are important for ordinary people who experiment and improvise to legalize their claims. However, powerful government agencies - enjoying the presumption of legality - equally improvise and may undo ordinary people’s tenuous legal achievements.

This generalised legal posturing and improvisation produces a paradox: People and government agencies refer to the law as if it is something fixed, but by doing so they effectively create law, fragment by fragment, constructing what they believe to be already there. And, crucially, such manufacture and persuasion of legality can have the effect of law.

The discussant will be Paul Kohlbry, Pozen Center Postdoctoral Instructor in Human Rights.

About the Author:

Christian Lund is Professor at the Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen ( He is the author of Law, Power and Politics in Niger (Lit Verlag/Transaction Publishers), Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa (Cambridge University Press), and Nine-Tenths of the Law: Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia (Yale University Press).

Co-Sponsors: Global Studies and Program on Global Environment