Indonesians of Chinese descent constitute only two to three per cent of the country’s population but dominate the private business sector. Serious acts of violence against this ethnic minority occurred during Indonesia’s colonial past, and after a period relatively free of such incidents became increasingly frequent during the final years of Suharto’s New Order. In this first book-length study of anti-Chinese hostility during the collapse of Suharto’s regime, Jemma Purdey presents a close analysis of the main incidents of violence during the transitional period between 1996 and 1999, and the unprecedented process of national reflection that ensued. The mass violence that accompanied the fall of the regime in May 1998 affected not only ethnic Chinese but also indigenous or pribumi Indonesians. The author places anti-Chinese riots within this broader context, considering causes and agency as well as the way violence has been represented. While ethnicity and prejudice are central to the explanation put forward, she concludes that politics, economics and religion offer additional keys to understanding why such outbreaks occurred.

Abstract

Since 2013, the Australian government has funded Australian students to undertake short periods of study abroad with an emphasis on Asia, including Indonesia. Universities, too, have been enhancing their study-abroad options as part of broader internationalization campaigns. In a short time, the number of Australian higher-education students undertaking study abroad as part of their undergraduate degrees has doubled, to one in five students. This significant investment follows from two beliefs: that Australia’s relations with Asia are significantly impacted by people-to people relations; and that formal, experiential learning is a particularly effective pedagogical method. But is this investment warranted? Do periods of short-term study in Indonesia enrich students’ understanding of the region, and of Australia’s relations with Asia? And do current undergraduates, who have unprecedented access to mobility through travel and tourism, gain anything from a formal and guided people-to-people experience? This article explores these questions through an in-depth investigation of the intensive-mode undergraduate unit ‘Australia and Asia’ run by the Faculty of Arts at Monash University from 2014 to 2017. It suggests that, for many students, study tours facilitate a short-term period of emotional involvement and self-reflection, rather than forging enduring connections.