The essentialist critique of liberal multiculturalism highlights the fact that the latter is inadvertently wedded to a collective cultural identity politics, which has encouraged the reification and rigidification of group identities. Foregrounding difference and preservationist attitudes, such identity politics tend to neglect the development of bridging social capital, and to undermine the emancipatory potential of liberal multicultural societies. In this article, I first seek to substantiate how pluralism in post-Suharto Indonesia has been articulated as liberal multiculturalism through increasing legal accommodation of certain ethnic, as well as conservative Muslim norms and institutions. Analysing how ethnic and religious identities have become more and more rigidly defined in the process, I then gauge the prospects of pluralism in the light of Rainer Forst’s four conceptions of tolerance.
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