Minorities, Modernity and the Emerging Nation

Christians in Indonesia, a Biographical Approach

G. van Klinken

This book examines the development of Indonesian nationalism from the viewpoint of a minority: the urban Christian elite. Placed between the Indonesian nationalist promise of freedom and the (equally Christian) Dutch colonial promise of modernity, their experience of late colonialism was filled with dilemma and ambiguity. Rather than describe dry institutions, this study traces the lives of five politically active Indonesian Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, spanning the late colonial, Japanese occupation and early independence periods: Amir Sjarifoeddin, Bishop Soegijapranata, Kasimo, Moelia and Ratu Langie. For most of them the main problem was not so much the protest against colonialism, but the transition to more modern forms of political community. Their status as a religious minority, and as urban middle class 'migrants' out of their traditional communities, made them more aware that achieving moral consensus was problematic.
This book should be of interest to students of Indonesian history, as well as those studying the history of Third World nationalism and the history of Christian missions.


E. Aspinall and G. van Klinken

The popular 1998 reformasi movement that brought down President Suharto’s regime demanded an end to illegal practices by state officials, from human rights abuse to nepotistic investments. Yet today, such practices have proven more resistant to reform than people had hoped.
Many have said corruption in Indonesia is "entrenched". We argue it is precisely this entrenched character that requires attention. What is state illegality entrenched in and how does it become entrenched? This involves studying actual cases. Our observations led us to rethink fundamental ideas about the nature of the state in Indonesia, especially regarding its socially embedded character. We conclude that illegal practices by state officials are not just aberrations to the state, they are the state. Almost invariably, illegality occurs as part of collective, patterned, organized and collaborative acts, linked to the competition for political power and access to state resources. While obviously excluding many without connections, corrupt behaviour also plays integrative and stabilizing functions. Especially at the lower end of the social ladder, it gets a lot of things done and is often considered legitimate.
This book may be read as a defence of area studies approaches. Without the insights that grew from applying our area studies skills, we would still be constrained by highly stylised notions of the state, which bear little resemblance to the state’s actual workings. The struggle against corruption is a long-term political process. Instead of trying to depoliticize it, we believe the key to progress is greater popular participation.
With contributions from Simon Butt, Robert Cribb, Howard Dick, Michele Ford, Jun Honna, Tim Lindsey, Lenore Lyons, John McCarthy, Ross McLeod, Marcus Mietzner, Jeremy Mulholland, Gerben Nooteboom, J Danang Widoyoko and Ian Wilson. This book is the result of a series of workshops supported, among others, by the Australian-Netherlands Research Collaboration (ANRC).
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Renegotiating Boundaries

Local Politics in Post-Suharto Indonesia


Edited by H.G.C. Schulte Nordholt and Gerry van Klinken

For decades almost the only social scientists who visited Indonesia’s provinces were anthropologists. Anybody interested in politics or economics spent most of their time in Jakarta, where the action was. Our view of the world’s fourth largest country threatened to become simplistic, lacking that essential graininess. Then, in 1998, Indonesia was plunged into a crisis that could not be understood with simplistic tools. After 32 years of enforced stability, the New Order was at an end. Things began to happen in the provinces that no one was prepared for. Democratization was one, decentralization another. Ethnic and religious identities emerged that had lain buried under the blanket of the New Order’s modernizing ideology. Unfamiliar, sometimes violent forms of political competition and of rentseeking came to light.
Decentralization was often connected with the neo-liberal desire to reduce state powers and make room for free trade and democracy. To what extent were the goals of good governance and a stronger civil society achieved? How much of the process was ‘captured’ by regional elites to increase their own powers? Amidst the new identity politics, what has happened to citizenship? These are among the central questions addressed in this book.
This volume is the result of a two-year research project at KITLV. It brings together an international group of 24 scholars – mainly from Indonesia and the Netherlands but also from the United States, Australia, Germany, Canada and Portugal.
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