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Matthew Isaac Cohen


Sukarno took a personal interest in using the arts for presenting Indonesia in a positive light. He oversaw cultural missions abroad and produced ‘cultural events’ that showed off his grace and charisma on the dance floor to overseas guests. While Soeharto showed little interest in the arts, new modes of arts diplomacy flourished during the New Order—scholarships for foreigners to study arts, artists in residence at Indonesian embassies, large-scale festivals aiming to facilitate artistic exchange and encourage foreign investments, to name but a few. In Indonesia today, arts diplomacy is represented by its own sub-directorate in the Ministry of Education and Culture. Indonesia is promoting itself through collaborations between Indonesian governmental agencies and professional, international producing bodies, galleries, and festivals. Cultural Houses are being built in key cities abroad, along with a nationwide platform for international festivals, Indonesiana. ‘Indonesianists’, including foreign academics and students of the arts, are being recruited to promote Indonesia abroad.

Travelling with the Idea of Taking Sides

Indonesian Pilgrimages to Jerusalem

Mirjam Lücking


Israel and Indonesia share no diplomatic relations, and considering Indonesia’s cordial bonds with the Palestinian Authority, Indonesian society is deemed to be critical of Israel. However, the ways in which Indonesians relate to ‘Others’ in Israel and Palestine are not monolithic. Indonesian perspectives on the Middle East are far more nuanced, as might be assumed from the largest Muslim society in the world, and the idea of ‘taking sides’ is challenged by encounters on the ground and by inter- and intra-religious rivalries. Contemporary pilgrimage tourism from Indonesia to Israel and the Palestinian Territories shows how Christian and Muslim Indonesians engage in conflictive identity politics through contrasting images of Israeli and Palestinian Others. Indonesian pilgrims’ viewpoints on these Others and on the Israel–Palestine conflict mirror the politicization and marketization of religious affiliation. This reveals peculiarities of the local engagement with global politics and the impact of travelling, which can inspire both the manifestation of enemy images and the blurring of identity markers.

M. Omar Faruque


How do disparate grievances join to form an agenda for collective action? This article analyses the articulation of movement demands and solidarity building during the formative phase of a popular mobilisation against a multinational mining company in Bangladesh. Drawing on a conceptual framework derived from Laclauian discourse theory, I explain how local community resistance inspired various social groups to support an anti-corporate social movement, ultimately defeating the mining company. I explain how the construction of an empty signifier had the capacity to connect disparate groups to oppose a common enemy. This analysis is based on a set of interviews with activists and a close reading of organisational documents. The examination of how movement demands are articulated emphasises the role of movement intellectuals and enriches the theorising of social movements in the Global South.

John Murphy


Indonesia’s National Social Security System (SJSN) aspires to universal coverage of insurance for health, retirement, and occupational benefits, such as employment injury. This article surveys the successive layers of policy development since the 1960s, in pensions and health benefits for some, and in social assistance programmes for the poor in the Reformasi era. Clarifying the nature of prior developments helps to understand the challenges facing the SJSN. These initiatives are assessed in terms of the literature on welfare regimes, applied as an interpretative tool, rather than in the expectation Indonesia fits the often-rigid categories of welfare typologies.