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Jakarta Post

Who are the Chinese-Indonesians? Monash University to outstrip simplistic views on ethnicity

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, August 18, 2019   /   10:40 am
Who are the Chinese-Indonesians? Monash University to outstrip simplistic views on ethnicity Diasporic Chinese has a remarkable diversity across the globe. The so-called Peranakan Chinese in Java for instance is so distinct in their cuisine, language, dress and furniture from their counterparts elsewhere. (Courtesy of Ariel Heryanto/Ariel Heryanto)

Indonesians of Chinese descent are not the only ethnic group who have suffered discrimination throughout the country’s history. However, as a group, Chinese-Indonesians are an easy target for both the state and rising populists looking for a scapegoat.

A conference, titled Chinese-Indonesians: Identities and Histories, to be held on Oct. 1-3 at Australia's Monash University, aims to delve into the concept of nationality and race in Indonesia, as well as the rising participation of Chinese-Indonesians in politics and the public sphere in general after the fall of Soeharto's New Order regime.

The conference will be hosted by the Monash Herb Feith Center Conference, which was named after scholar Herb Feith to honor his legacy in research on Indonesian politics.

Read also: Times they are a-changin': Legacy of Chinese-Indonesian family businesses

In a press release received by The Jakarta Post, the conference’s organizer calls for a reexamination of the assumption of a nation "as being homogenous, teleological and inherently desirable for all".

The event’s keynote speakers are Karen Strassler, professor of anthropology at Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center in the United States, and Hilmar Farid, the Education and Culture Ministry’s culture director general.

Strassler will present a paper on the contribution of ethnic Chinese photographers to the cultural project of nationhood, while Hilmar will discuss Chinese-Indonesians in politics, focusing on former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

The conference will also have over 50 paper presentations and three roundtable sessions on a plethora of disciplines. (dev/wng)