Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schuller, Mark

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


This thesis examines how power operates within the NGOs and how NGOs’ agenda interacts with local forces that transform local civic life and their relationship with the state. Using critical ethnography as an approach and methodology, this study investigates the relationship between the agenda that was developed by an NGO-like institution named the UGM and the Mollonese’s local politics that in turn affected the NGO-state relationship in West Timor. This study uses ethnographic data from two separate fieldworks in the district of North Mollo, Timor Island. The first was conducted from January 2016 to January 2017, the second was from December 2019 to January 2020. This study found that rather than being a means of liberation to deal with land and environmental issues and the advocacy, the UGM instead falls into “NGOization:” transforming the project into a top-down structure, using rational-bureaucratic “Western” NGO models, and depoliticizing the activism as well as the people. It thus argues that the UGM as “intermediary” has become a tool of governmentality which makes the Mollonese subject to the practices of neoliberal governmentality. Ultimately, this thesis seeks to contribute to the anthropological study of NGOs, suggesting that the state-NGO relationship is highly influenced by the character of the state and the state’s struggle to refine its identity as a nation over the people.


193 pages




Northern Illinois University

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