Dr.ir. Jacqueline Vel

  • Senior Researcher
  • Indonesia
  • Agrarian law
  • Biofuel politics
  • Socio-legal studies
  • Sumba
  • Rural development

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 8834
E-Mail: j.a.c.vel@law.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid, Instituut voor Metajuridica, Recht en bestuur ontwikkelingslanden/VVI
Office Address: Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden
Room number Flex


Jacqueline Vel is a senior researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute of Leiden Law School on the theme of law, governance and development in Indonesia. From 2010 until December 2015 she was senior researcher and coordinator of the KNAW and NWO funded program “Jarak: the commoditization of an alternative biofuel crop (jatropha curcas) in Indonesia”. JARAK was part of the program 'Agriculture beyond Food'. It was an interdisciplinary program combining the fields of law, history, anthropology, political ecology and plant science (agronomy). It consisted of six PhD and post-doc projects, with Dutch and Indonesian researchers. Apart from coordinating the program Jacqueline woked on a common analytical framework for JARAK, developing a socio-legal niche in global value chain research, and field research in eastern Indonesia on jatropha developments in the field. The main results of the program can by accessed at http://jarak.iias.asia.

On 1 January 2015 Jacqueline joined the Scientific Program Indonesia-Netherlands of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences at KITLV for the next three years. In that program she is researcher and coordinator for a cluster of three social science and economics research programs concerned with contemporary developments in Indonesia. The three programs share an interest in governance, markets, and citizenship. Her own research concentrates on village governance in Indonesia. With the 2014 Village Law, village governments will enjoy more autonomy and receive a large budget from the central government. How will this new wave of decentralization take place and what will be its effect on villagers in one of the poorest areas of the country?

Sumba Island in the eastern part of Indonesia has been Jacqueline’s continuous field work site, from 1984 when she first worked there, until her most recent visit in February 2014. In 2008, she published a book about 20 years observations on Sumbanese type of network politics and the political transformations in one of Indonesia’s most ‘traditional’ islands: “Uma Politics: an ethnography of democratization in West Sumba, Indonesia, 1986-2006”. For JARAK, she conducted field work about jatropha projects and investments from 2009 until 2014 focusing on issues of land acquisition, local politics and project financing. The results have been published in the articles that you find in the list of publications. Among those is "Plants for Power", a report of a study about the potential for cultivating crops as feedstock for energy production on Sumba, including considerations about social sustainability. This study was commissioned by the Dutch NGO Hivos.

In 2008 and 2009 Jacqueline was researchers in the program 'Access tot Justice in Indonesia', working on further developing a conceptual framework for studying access to justice for the poor and conducting a case study on access to justice for the poor in land disputes with fieldwork in Sumba. She was a guest editor of the special issue of the Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal.

Jacqueline joined the VVI  in 2006 as post-doctoral fellow in the INDIRA program that focused on the changes in the legal system in Indonesia since the demise of Soeharto's authoritarian regime in 1998, and in particular on the question whether and why land tenure security for common people in rural and urban areas in Indonesia has changed in this period.

In 2006 Jacqueline was research fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean studies (KITLV) in the program "The state of authority in post-1998 Indonesia".

Previously she was assistant professor in Development Sociology and Modern Asian History at the University of Amsterdam. Her master's degree was in agricultural economics at Wageningen University, where she also earned her PhD in 1994 at the department of agricultural law with the dissertation "The Uma-economy: indigenous economics and development work in Lawonda, Sumba (eastern Indonesia)" under supervision of prof. F. von Benda-Beckmann. This book has been translated in Bahasa Indonesia and the translation “Ekonomi-Uma” was launched in April 2010 in Jakarta and in November 2010 in Sumba.

Apart from this academic work, Jacqueline obtained professional experience as development worker and researcher on Sumba (Indonesia) from 1984-1990, and as policy advisor for the Dutch NGO ICCO, South Asia desk.

Key words: Indonesia, agrarian law, biofuel politics, socio-legal studies, Sumba, rural development, decentralization.

Publications 2014

Peer Reviewed Article 
Vel, J.A.C. (2014) Trading in Discursive Commodities: Biofuel Brokers’ Roles in Perpetuating the Jatropha Hype in Indonesia. Sustainability, 6 (5), 2802-2821.

Peer Reviewed Edited Volume
Vel, J.A.C and D. Simandjuntak (eds) (2014) JARAK, the short history of Jatropha projects in Indonesia. Leiden: IIAS.

Peer Reviewed Contributions to an Edited Volume
Vel, J.A.C. (2014) What are the benefits of analyzing jatropha activities as a commoditization process? In:  Vel, J.A.C and D. Simandjuntak (eds) JARAK, the short history of Jatropha projects in Indonesia. Leiden: IIAS.

Vel, J.A.C. (2014) What explains the non-implementation of jatropha schemes? In: Vel, J.A.C and D. Simandjuntak (eds.) JARAK, the short history of Jatropha projects in Indonesia. Leiden: IIAS.

Vel, J.A.C. (2014) How could the jatropha sector live on subsidies and green investments without producing oil or biodiesel?  In: Vel, J.A.C and D. Simandjuntak (eds.) JARAK, the short history of Jatropha projects in Indonesia. Leiden: IIAS.

Vel, J.A.C. (with Löffler, H., Afiff, S.A., Burgers, P., Govers, C., Heeres, H.J., Karyanto, O., Manurung, R., Visscher, S. and Zwaagstra, T.) (2014) Agriculture Beyond Food. Experiences from Indonesia. The Hague: NWO/WOTRO

Publicaties 2013

Book Chapter
Vel, J.A.C. & A.W. Bedner (2013) Addressing a 'Globalized Social': Mobilization of Law in Global Networks with Reference to Biofuel Production in Indonesia. In: Feenan D. (Ed.) Exploring the 'Socio' of Socio-Legal Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 157-180.

Professional Publication 
Vel J., Simandjuntak D., Rooijen L. van, Widjaja H., Afiff S., Klinken G. van, Tjeuw J., Slingerland M., Semedi P., Schulte Nordholt H., Gunawan, Persoon G., Otto J.M., Suharsono S., Denyse Snelder D, Orij R., Dieleman M., Bedner A., McCarthy J. (2013), Jatropha: from an iconic biofuel crop to a green-policy parasite , The IIAS Newsletter 66, p 15.

Publications 2012

Peer Reviewed Article
McCarthy, J.F. & Vel, J.A.C. & Afiff, S. 2012, Trajectories of land acquisition and enclosure: development schemes, virtual land grabs, and green acquisitions in Indonesia’s Outer Islands. Journal of Peasant Studies (The), 39 (2), pp. 521-549.

External  Research Report
Vel, J.A.C. and R. Nugrohowardhani, 2012, Plants for Power: The potential for cultivating crops as feedstock for energy production in Sumba. The Hague: Hivos.

Publications 2011

Book chapter
Vel, J.A.C. & Makambombu, S. (2011) Akses terhadap keadilan dalam sengketa tanah: Bagaimana ketidaksetaraan sosial membentuk resolusi konflik di Sumba [Access to Justice in Land conflicts: how social inequalities shape conflict resolution in Sumba]. In: Berenschot, W.J., Bedner, A.W., Riyadi Laggut-Terre, E., Novirianti, D. (Eds.), Akses terhadap keadilan: Perjuangan masyarakat miskin dan kurang beruntung untuk menuntut hak di Indonesia [Access to Justice: the Struggle of Indonesia's Poor to Claim their Rights] (Seri Socio-Legal Indonesia), pp. 53-71. Jakarta: HuMa Jakarta; Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden University; KITLV; Epistema Institute. 

Article in Newspaper 
Vel, J.A.C. (2011) Eiland Sumba is helemaal geen spiegel voor het Westen. Trouw.

Working Paper
A Framework for studying developments in the jatrohpa sector - paper for JARAK workshop in Leiden 29-30 March 2011. JARAK Working paper 1.

Suraya Afiff, Jacqueline Vel, Huub Löffler and Cora Govers (2011) "Agriculture beyond Food", The Broker Blogs 6 December 2011, http://www.thebrokeronline.eu/Blogs/A-new-agriculture-for-food-security/Agriculture-Beyond-Food  

Publications 2010

Peer reviewed articles
Vel, J. A.C and S. Makambombu (2010) Access to Agrarian Justice in Sumba, Eastern Indonesia, Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal  (LGD) 15. 

Vel, Jacqueline A.C. (2010) Policy Research on Access to Justice in Indonesia: A review of World Bank and UNDP reports, Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal (LGD) 15. 

Bedner, A.W. and J.A.C. Vel (2010) An analytical framework for empirical research on Access to Justice, Law, Social Justice and Global Development Journal (LGD) 15.

Book chapter
Vel, J.A.C. and S. Makambombu (2010) ‘Penggunaan hukum adat terkait tanah pada masa kini di Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur’, in Myrna Safitri and Tristam Noeiliono (eds)  Hukum Agraria dan Masyarakat di Indonesia, Jakarta: HuMa/KITLV Jakarta/ Van Vollenhoven Institute (Seri Sosio-Legal Indonesia). Pp 213-47. 

Vel, J.A.C. (2010) Ekonomi Uma: Penerapan adat dalam dinamika ekonomi berbasis kekerabatan. Jakarta: HuMa/KITLV Jakarta/Van Vollenhoven Institute (Seri Sosio-Legal Indonesia). (translation of dissertation + new introduction)

Reports and working papers
Vel, J.A.C. (2010) ‘Researching Access to Justice in Indonesia: A review of World Bank and UNDP reports. Access to Justice in Indonesia Working Papers, Van Vollenhoven Institute Leiden University. http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/review-of-reports-jacqueline-vel.pdf 

Vel, J.A.C and  S. Makambombu (2010) ‘Access in Land Disputes Arising in the Context of Commercialization of Agriculture in Sumba (Nusa Tenggara Timur). Access to Justice in Indonesia Working Papers, Van Vollenhoven Institute Leiden University.

Ancillary Positions

Member Coordinating Committee Agriculture beyond Food

Last Modified: 28-06-2016