Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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A Nation in Contradiction?
Riwanto Tirtosudarmo

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 709
Date: 2019-07-23 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


Various activities and events organized by the state and civil organizations to celebrate diversity as the genuine character of the people and society in this archipelago appear to contradict the long cry from the elites to maintain homogeneity and unity of the nation. Constant tensions seem unavoidable between the idea of oneness (kesatuan) and togetherness (persatuan). Desires to enhance diversity and fears perceiving it as a threat have created an ambiguity in the treatment of minorities and marginal groups. Communitarianism manifested in populist politics could constitute an impediment in transforming the people (rakyat) into the citizen (warganegara). This paper is an attempt to unpack the contradiction within the nation by exploring major discourses underlying the nation-state building processes. As a nation constructed on the basis of diverse communities and a vast archipelagic geography, the state is by nature confronted by the challenge of maintaining unity or promoting federalism. Controversies on the form and structure of decentralization, such as whether autonomy should be granted at the provincial or the district level of government, show the different views among the political elites and reflect  a fundamental embedded contradiction within the nation. This paper argues that unless the contradiction within this great nation is resolved the fate of minorities and marginal groups will continue to be jeopardized.

Keywords: nation, contradiction, diversity, minority, marginal groups.