The Indonesia Study Group in the first semester of 2017

During ISG on the Jakarta elections by Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner in Canberra.

During ISG on the Jakarta elections by Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner in Canberra.

Ten Indonesia Study Group (ISG) seminars were held in the first half of 2017, with topics including economics, social change, climate change and politics. There were 14 speakers in total, three of them female, three international speakers and five from interstate.

One of the highlights of this semester’s ISG was the first ISG Roadshow, held at Murdoch University in Western Australia. The topic was the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections. This Roadshow was unique for being an interactive seminar between the panelists and audience at Murdoch University and the audience at ANU who interacted and held discussions during the seminar via livestreaming. In total, there were approximately 60 participants from both universities, including government officials, academics and postgraduate students.

Two other large ISG seminars were also held in this semester. The first talk was given by Marcus Mietzner and Edward Aspinall on the Jakarta Elections from national and local perspectives. It is estimated that more than 140 people attended this seminar. In June, Greg Fealy gave a talk entitled Islam in Australian-Indonesian Relations: fear, stereotypes and opportunities. It is estimated that more than 70 people attended this important seminar, including a notably large number of government officials.

Greg Fealy presenting

Greg Fealy presenting an ISG on Islam in Australian-Indonesian relations in July.

In general, the quality of the presenters and topics covered in this semester was outstanding. The three international speakers were James Castle from Castle Asia who discussed the current political and economic situation in Indonesia, Jonah Busch who talked about his new book on forestry and climate change, and also Jonah Busch and Armida Alisjahbana who presented the survey of recent development for the Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies (BIES), with an emphasis on environmental and climate change. From interstate, Antje Missbach from Monash University presented a topic on Acehnese hospitality towards the Rohingya refugees, Ian Wilson from Murdoch University discussed the outcomes of the Jakarta gubernatorial elections with Marcus Mietzner from ANU, and Andrew Rosser talked about the political economy of teacher management in Indonesia.

Two research Travel Grant recipients also presented their research findings at an ISG seminar in March. Peter Bowers from the University of Sydney talked about his research findings on migration by young Indonesians and Kate Grealy from Griffith University discussed Islamist militias in Indonesia.

Chris Manning and Sarah (Xue) Dong presented a survey of recent developments about economic consolidation, ongoing reforms and labour market change for the April edition of BIES. A scheduled seminar on intolerance, elections and primordialism in Indonesia beyond the Ahok case by Sandra Hamid was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

The seminar audiences comprised academics, postgraduate students and government officials. A third of the participants were women. Most of the seminars were recorded and the files are available on the ISG webpage.