Heterogeneity, politics of ethnicity, and multiculturalism What is a viable framework for Indonesia?

Thung Ju Lan


Indonesia is a plural society that consists of several hundred ethnic and sub-ethnic groups. One of its generic characteristics is heterogeneity. In the last ten years after the implementation of regional autonomy, we have witnessed the emergence of strong ethnic and religiously flavoured local identity politics in various places in Indonesia that created open and vicious conflicts. This periodical violence exploded especially during the election of district and provincial heads. The intimate relation multiculturalism, with the actual political praxis of everyday life as an alternative to the existing paradigm of the “homogenization” of nationhood, has not been discussed. I believe it is time to discuss the strategic junctures between heterogeneity, politics of ethnicity (and religion) and multiculturalism as well as their possible realization at the local and national levels in order to find a viable framework for a future Indonesia.


Heterogeneity, regional autonomy, identity politics, ethnicity, religion, domination, conflict, multiculturalism, hybrid, and policy framework

Full Text:



Ali-Fauzi, Ihsan and Samsu Rizal Panggabean. 2010. Politik identitas dan masa depan pluralisme kita. Jakarta: Pusat Studi Agama dan Demokrasi (PUSAD), Yayasan Wakaf Paramadina.

Coppel, Charles A. 1983. Indonesian Chinese in crisis. Kuala Lumpur/New York: Oxford University Press.

Dasko, Donna. 2003. “Public attitudes toward multiculturalism and bilingualism in Canada”, Conference Proceedings on Canadian and French Perspectives on Diversity, 16 October 2003, Sponsored by Canadian Heritage: Strategic Policy and Management, Official Languages Support Programs, Multiculturalism and Human Rights Program (Citizenship and Heritage Sector); Strategic Research and Analysis (Strategic Policy and Research Branch); and Planning, Analysis and Management (Public Affairs and Communications Sector),(http://www.queensu.ca/cora/_files/diversity_dasko.pdf), accessed on 6 April 2011.

Geißler, Rainer. 2003. “Multiculturalism in Canada – A model for Germany?” (http://www.fb1.uni-siegen.de/soziologie/mitarbeiter/geissler/japan_2003_multican.pdf), accessed on 5 April 2011.

Henry, Nicola. 2010. “A multicultural Australia”, The Australian Collaboration, (http://www.australiancollaboration.com.au/_factsheets/Multicultural_FactSheet.pdf), accessed on 30 March 2011.

Hoon, Chang-yau. 2008. Chinese identity in post-Suharto Indonesia: culture, politics and media. Brighton, England and Portland, Oregon: Sussex Academic Press.

Kerkyasharian A.M.. 1998. Stepan. “Multiculturalism in Australia–Today and Tomorrow”, Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW address to the 1998 Annual Conference of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Saturday, 28 March 1998, Parramatta NSW, (http://www.crc.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1342/multiculturalism_in_australia.pdf), accessed on 6 April 2011.

Kymlicka, Will. 2011. “The current state of multiculturalism in Canada: Prepared for multiculturalism and human tights branch, Government of Canada”, (http://www.icc-icc.ca/en/assets/pdf/other/ The_State_of_ Multiculturalism_in_Canada.pdf), accessed on 6 April 2011.

Lay, Vinal. 2006. “Multiculturalism at risk: The Indian minority in Malaysia”, Economic and Political Weekly, September 2, (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Diaspora/IndiansMalaysia.pdf), accessed on 6 April 2011.

Musa, Nurhafilah. 2008. “Federalism, constitutionalism and democratic society in multicultural societies – A case study of Malaysia”, IFF Summer University 2008, Paper for Week 2, (http://www.federalism.ch/files/FileDownload/887/Musa_Malaysia.pdf), accessed on March 30, 2011.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17510/wjhi.v13i2.24


  • There are currently no refbacks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Free counters!    Facebook Wacana    Twitter Wacana

View My Stats