Navigation – Plan du site
Comptes rendus

“Rebuilding Indonesia, A Nation of Unity in Diversity: Towards A Multicultural Society”

Denpasar, Bali, 16-19 July 2002
Antonio Guerreiro
p. 153-155
Référence(s) :

“Rebuilding Indonesia, A Nation of Unity in Diversity: Towards A Multicultural Society”, Denpasar, Bali, 16-19 July 2002

Texte intégral

  • 1 The Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia (subtitled Indonesian Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology) (...)

1The third edition of the international symposium initiated by the Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia (JAI)1 took place on the central Denpasar campus of Udayana University, Bali, on July 16-19, 2002. Previous editions had been held at Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, in 2000, and at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, in 2001. The Bali symposium was a large event, lasting four full days. It is worth mentioning that its organization by the Faculty of Letters of Udayana University was supported by a host of academic and research institutions, in Indonesia and abroad—the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), the National Islamic Institute (IAIN), the Australian National University (ANU), the Centre of South-East Asian Studies of the National University of Singapore, The Japan Foundation, the Center for South-East Asian Studies of Kyoto University, the Universities of Newcastle and Wollongong in Australia—among many others partners, which also included several corporate companies, such as P.T. Gas Negara and the well-known kretek cigarette manufacturer, P.T. Bentoel Indonesia.

2The numerous participants came from Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, and the United-States, Canada, as well as from other ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, etc.), Hong Kong, and Japan. Reflecting the JAI’s editorial policy, the working languages of the symposium were Bahasa Indonesia and English. Speeches by the organizers (JAI Committee), the Governor of Bali, and the Vice-Chancellor of Udayana University officially opened the symposium. As the guest of honor, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, I Gede Ardika, himself a Balinese, also delivered a speech. This was immediately followed by the first plenary session, co-chaired by Professors Parsudi Suparlan (Universitas Indonesia) and James J. Fox (ANU). Entitled “Towards a International Multicultural Anthropology,” J.J. Fox’s paper introduced the symposium’s general themes. The choice of Bali, with its strategic situation as a transportation hub in Eastern Indonesia and its wide range of accommodation facilities around Denpasar, was a convenient one, and the tragic bombing of October 12th could not have been foreseen.

3Since the symposium was held in Bali, its geographical emphasis was on the presentation of findings and questions originating from research on the societies and cultures of Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB, including Lombok and Sumbawa), and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT, from Flores to Timor Barat). Quite naturally, most of the Indonesian participants came from these two provinces, although academics and researchers from other regions, such as Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Java, Maluku, and Papua, attended as well. In this respect, the symposium provided a good opportunity for meeting Indonesian anthropologists and sociologists and discussing a large range of social and cultural topics—such as the arts and cultural performances, or the role of museums, poorly represented in the panels—in-between sessions, during meals, or in the evening. As for the sessions themselves, there were eleven parallel panels, plus three plenary sessions and a visual anthropology workshop. In the 157-page-thick program booklet, the abstracts only occupied over one hundred pages!

4The key issues focused broadly on the social, cultural, and environmental problems, and the series of crises and conflicts that have hit Indonesia since mid-1997 (Java, Maluku, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Timor), coinciding with the end of President Suharto’s New Order regime. But the stress was on “Rebuilding” the country rather than on “Conflicts,” as indicated by the title of the symposium. Actually, it echoed the difficult question addressed at the Makassar symposium: “Unity in Diversity: Is it still possible?” In other words, is the idea of a united and centralized Indonesia, promoted by its first president, Sukarno, and brutally enforced by the New Order, still a viable one in these times of Reformasi? Then, the topics of “Centres and peripheries in the construction of culturality in Indonesia” (Vivienne Wee), “Transition from cultural pluralism to multiculturalism” (Irwan Abdullah), and “The management of natural resources in relation to the decentralization process in a multicultural Indonesia” (G. Acciaioli and G. Persoon) were discussed, providing useful guidelines for the participants.

5Underlying questions were also raised, concerning the role of the nation-state and the recognition of ethnic and cultural diversity in the country’s provinces (Indonesia yang beranekaragam), or the position of the emerging civil society (masyarakat madani) and the role of NGOs in the process of change from a highly centralized system to one in which provinces and/or districts (kabupaten) are more autonomous. New and stimulating topics were also brought about in the discussion of the transnational dimension of Indonesia’s “inner transformation” in the wider Southeast Asian (ASEAN) setting, particularly those pertaining to borders, roads, forestry, migrations, and movements in relation to Indonesia’s neighbors, Malaysia (Sarawak and Sabah in northern Borneo, Johor and other states on the Peninsula), Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines (Sulu, Mindanao, and Palawan).

  • 2 The Proceedings of the 2000 Makassar symposium (“The Beginning of the 21st Century: Endorsing Regio (...)

6In line with the two previous symposiums organized by the JAI2, focusing on Indonesia’s internal transformations, conflicts, and future prospects, the Bali symposium reflected a shift from the classic social and cultural anthropological approaches to socio-anthropological themes involving both micro- and macro-level perspectives: interethnic relations, the dynamics of ethnicity and cultural identity, education, the nation-state’s discourses, the provinces and good governance, the natural environment and sustainable development, the media and Internet practices, tourism, adat and politico-economic systems, social values and musyawarah. By and large, its papers reflected the common agenda currently discussed in the region: transnationalism, globalization, the status of ethnic groups and social minorities, changing identities and cultural survival, and the frontiers of nations and states along political, geographical, and cultural lines in the Malay-Indonesian world.

  • 3 Eight of these films are available in video VHS (PAL only) from the Department of Anthropology, Aus (...)

7Finally, the Anthropological Film Workshop, proposed by Dr. Boedhihartono with the assistance of Intu (Agni Klintuni) Boedhihartono, was a fresh addition to the previous symposiums—it also had the advantage of taking place in the “Kemanga” room, apparently the only air-conditioned building on campus. The workshop’s programming offered a comprehensive set of Indonesian and European (French and Italian) ethnographic films, and a series produced by ANU about Indonesia3. Moreover, it gave the audience the opportunity to watch a selection of Ian Dunlop’s works on various Australian Aboriginal peoples, dating back from the 1960s to the 1990s.

8On the last day, a Business Meeting for panel coordinators and invited participants took place, to prepare recommendations for policy strategies and future collaborative programs. In any case, the organizing team should receive high praise for the smooth running of such a large conference, including meals and drinks, and a welcome party and a cultural tour for the participants.

9The Bali symposium papers will probably be published by the JAI in the near future and, because of their sheer volume, they will also be made available in CD-rom form. Overall, they will constitute a rich data source for Southeast Asia specialists on the transformation processes at work within the new Indonesia.

Haut de page


1 The Jurnal Antropologi Indonesia (subtitled Indonesian Journal of Social and Cultural Anthropology), published by the Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP), Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, is supported by the Association of Indonesian Anthropologists (Ikatan Antropologi Indonesia, established in 1998), which actively contributed to the organization of the previous two symposiums. The Bali symposium was coordinated by Semiarto Aji Purwanto for the JAI’s organizing Committee.

2 The Proceedings of the 2000 Makassar symposium (“The Beginning of the 21st Century: Endorsing Regional Autonomy, Understanding Local Cultures, and Strenghtening National Integration”) have been published. Now avalaible in CD-rom form, they can be ordered from the JAI’s office at Universitas Indonesia, FISIP Depok, at the price of Rp 65.000 (within Indonesia) or US$ 35 (foreign countries), inclusive of handling and shipping. The Padang symposium was entitled “Globalisasi dan Kebudayaan Lokal: Suatu Dialektika Menuju Indonesia Baru” (“Globalization and Local Culture: A Dialectic for a New Indonesia”).

3 Eight of these films are available in video VHS (PAL only) from the Department of Anthropology, Australian National University, Canberra.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Antonio Guerreiro, « “Rebuilding Indonesia, A Nation of Unity in Diversity: Towards A Multicultural Society” », Moussons, 6 | 2002, 153-155.

Référence électronique

Antonio Guerreiro, « “Rebuilding Indonesia, A Nation of Unity in Diversity: Towards A Multicultural Society” », Moussons [En ligne], 6 | 2002, mis en ligne le 17 décembre 2013, consulté le 21 janvier 2019. URL :

Haut de page


Antonio Guerreiro

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus de la revue Moussons sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page