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A Tale of Two Mayors: Configurations of Care and Corruption in Eastern Indonesian District Head Elections

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The article explores the aftermath of political transition to a liberal democracy and the implementation of the anti-corruption agenda in Indonesia after the end of Suharto’s dictatorship. The author particularly addresses three rounds of direct district head elections that took place in Kupang, in eastern Indonesia, between the years 2007 and 2012 as to assess the outcome of the reforms put in place in Indonesia. The author argues that despite such reforms, corruption and clientelism in Indonesian politics persisted, and led some scholars to view corruption as Indonesia’s main problem in the attempt to achieve a meaningful and liberal democracy. However, the article argues that a varying view of corruption and anti-corruption efforts can, instead of viewing corruption as a transgression of political care, allow for delineating how much bad governance are people willing to put up with as long as they feel cared for and seen.

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Current Anthropology