This research article describes the construction of vulnerability to natural hazards in the Dieng Plateau of Central Java, Indonesia. The Dieng Plateau is a volcanically hazardous landscape, featuring a series of craters with a history of recurrent phreatic eruptions and emission of poisonous gases. Drawing on four months of in-depth fieldwork, this article applies the 'hazardscape' as a conceptual lens to describe how economic necessity and political processes frame volcanic risk, and how this influences vulnerability. Vulnerability in Dieng is linked to its history of upland settlement, the unequal spatial distribution of land prices, and the impact of internal state-led territorialisation strategies. Territorialisation strategies are characterised by the spatial designation of certain areas as 'hazardous', a process that historically led to the relocation of upland Javanese farmers to the outer islands as part of the politically significant transmigration programme. However, these territorial zones were locally contested, leading to the reoccupation of hazardous land with mixed outcomes for conditions of vulnerability. By unpacking the political construction of risk, through the concepts of territoriality and the hazardscape, this article demonstrates how the utilisation of hazardous land can bring economic opportunity alongside disadvantage in Java's volcanic landscapes.