Democracy in Indonesia is undergoing a serious test. For over the past fifteen years in the post-reformation era, Indonesian democracy has been characterised by increasingly high cost politics. Such high cost political practices, however, had been proven to be not producing quality leadership, neither in national nor in provincial and local level, not in the executive or worse in the legislative bodies. Instead, it scales up the already deep rooted corrupt practices, culture and mentality within the state institutions in various levels. As an output of 2013’s election for example, the previous top leader of the National House of Representative is now undergoing legal prosecution for his orchestration in the mega case of E-KTP corruption. Such trend of wide-spreading corruption seems to worsen ahead. As the country is approaching the incoming 2018 district elections nationally, by March 2018 there are already eight candidates of mayor and district head being suspected for corruption by the Commission of Corruption Eradication (KPK), even before the election is held. Meanwhile, religious identities is on the rise and has been used to mobilise supports, along with religious sentiments and moral notions, in democratic agenda through ways that produce threats to the nation unity, heated tensions among society, and expressions of hatred between the political factions. Lies, hoax and misleading information are produced, distributed and employed to build public opinion on a wide range of issues and directed to attack political rivals in the name of democracy.

Challenge to democracy also arises from the ideological contestation against the national ideology, the nation state, and finally against democracy itself as a political concept. For more than ten years, democracy had allowed the Indonesian section of a religious based international organisation to confidently and openly express their stance against the national ideology and political system, and to step further by declaring their own ideological and political agenda which against democracy itself. At the same time, the state ideology and state political format (“NKRI”) have been subjects for contestation between the nationalist oriented groups and the self-proclaimed religious groups regarding who best represent the nation’s voices. The narrative of religious associated legal doctrine and the mobilisation of ethnic hatred are involved in this contestation which implies a glimpse of threat against the nation’s unity. As the nation is approaching the 2018 legislative election and the incoming 2019 presidential election, what will emerge in these democratic businesses is highly uncertain. Will it be businesses as usual or worse?

Has Indonesian democracy failed? What are the philosophical, ethical, cultural and ideological issues underlying the above mentioned pathologies in democracy? Why does the ethical principle absence in Indonesian democracy? What frameworks, then, are available to best comprehend the dynamic and complexity of democracy in Indonesia? How do we best understand the rise and contestation of the multiple forms of identity and ideology in the nation in relation to democracy? What lesson can we learn from practices or issues of democracy in different settings including, but not limited to, education, community engagement, economic, traditions or adat, political participation, family, religious setting, organisation and youth across the archipelago? Can we understand and practice democracy in different ways? How should we think about democracy in the future of Indonesia?

The conference aims to mediate radical critics and fundamental apprehension of democracy in Indonesia by bringing together the current theoretical debates, studies and research on democracy, identities and ideologies from various settings of time and space within Indonesian context. For that purpose, we are inviting theorists, scholars, researchers and practitioners working in the fields of, but NOT LIMITED to: philosophy, political science, sociology, anthropology, gender studies, religious studies, human geography, psychology, public policy studies, media studies, citizenship, criminology, maritime studies, education, international relations, sexuality, history, language and legal studies.

Approach and Objectives

The conference will take a broad approach toward the theme by inviting a range of different perspectives and crosscutting fields of research in the areas of humanities and social sciences in order to achieve theoretical, complex, and empirically grounded understanding about the intersection of democracy as an ethical and political concept, and the living and cross-cutting discourses of identity and ideology in Indonesia.

The Conference aims to:

  1. Bring together the current studies, research and theoretical debates about the philosophy and dynamic of democracy, identities and ideologies within various settings of Indonesia.
  2. Explore theoretical inquiries about the dynamics of democracy, identities and ideologies in Indonesian contexts.
  3. Mediate theoretical exploration and debates about models, frameworks, and practice of democracy particularly in relation to overlapping and often contradictory discourses of identity and ideology in Indonesia.
  4. Seek alternative strategies and formats of democratic model to achieve the understanding of democratic principle in its widest and liberating meaning.