Monash Indonesian Seminar Series (MISS)
The Monash Indonesian Seminar Series is a collaboration between Monash University Library and Monash Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre. The Seminar Series comprises of monthly seminars featuring contemporary topics relating to Indonesia and Australia presented by key guest speakers.
The Library’s Indonesian collection is one of the most comprehensive in Australia. Check the Indonesian Studies Library Guide to see their diverse range of materials, including the Indonesian Special Collection.
Please see our events page for any upcoming MISS events.
MISS 1 - February 11
'Identity politics and style in the Malay music and culture of Indonesia’s Riau Islands'
Presenter - Professor Margaret Kartomi
When the postcolonial state of Indonesia committed itself to democracy and local autonomy in 1999, the Riau Islanders lobbied against decades of ‘internal colonialism’ and neglect by mainland Riau (of which they were part). Eventually they were granted permission to establish their own autonomous Riau Islands province. The new Riau Islander government encouraged the province to choose music, dance and theatre forms of which they were most proud, to promote and revitalise them as their local icons of identity following a major Festival of Malay Civilisation in the capital, Tanjung Pinang, in 2013.
This seminar explored the promotion and revitalisation of local culture and identity. Discussion focused on key themes in the book such as: artistic icons and their significance, changing performance styles, Indonesian-Malay concepts of space, place and generative memory codes that govern stylistic norms.
MISS 2 - March 4
Seeking the Imam' Documentary
Presenter - Dr Noor Huda Ismail and Nur Dhainia
When Dhania was 17 years old she fell for ISIS propaganda and chose to leave Indonesia and travel to Syria to join ISIS. Not wanting to go alone, Dhania invited her family to come along and they lived in Syria for almost 2 years. Dhania soon saw that ISIS life was not as sweet as the propaganda made it out to be. Managing to escape from ISIS territory, Dhania and her family are now back in Indonesia. They are actively campaigning for the prevention of terrorism, promoting messages of peace and providing a counter-narrative to ISIS propaganda.
In this seminar Dr Huda was joined by Dhania, the protagonist of the documentary and together they discussed both the making of the documentary and Dhania’s time in Syria.
MISS 3 - April 8
Beyond the setting sun: Indonesia cultural influences in Torres Strait of north-eastern Australia
Presenter - Professor Ian McNiven
For thousands of years, Torres Strait Islanders have been positioned at an international crossroads, at the nexus between the New Guinea Melanesian world to the north and east, the Australian Aboriginal world to the south, and the Indonesian world to the west. Over the past 500 years, links between Indonesians and Torres Strait Islanders intensified as cultural processes in both regions intensified. This paper explores the material expressions of this intensification using a wide range of historical, linguistic, ethnographic, and archaeological evidence. Professor Ian McNiven argues that the histories of northeast Australia and the south coast of Indonesian Papua are intimately connected and entwined.
MISS 4 - May 6
Propaganda and Sexual Panics in Indonesia
Presenter - Nursyahbani (Nur) Katjasungkana and Saskia Wieringa
Indonesia had known two sexual moral panics. The first was in 1965 when the progressive women’s organization Gerwani was accused of sexual debauchery. This slander incited army and militia to murder between 500,000 and one million people. The second started in late 2015 where Indonesia's LGBT community was attacked and presented as a threat to the nation. In this seminar Saskia and Nur discussed the background of these two campaigns, in the light of the current situation of a decline of democracy, the rise of majoritarian conservative Muslim values, the continued power of the country’s security forces and the economic and political oligarchy. The key question asked in this seminar were: How can the rule of law, human, women’s and sexual rights be strengthened? The Anti-Sexual Violence Bill and the Family Resilience Bill will be used as an illustration.
MISS 5 - June 3
Ending Invisibility and Stigma in Indonesia
Presenter - Santi Kusumaningrum, Director of PUSKAPA (Centre for Child Protection and Wellbeing)
For most Australians, getting a birth certificate for your children is a no-brainer. Australia has streamlined its civil registration system and made the services accessible. In Indonesia, the situation is quite different. Having your whole existence registered since birth is a luxury for Indonesia's most vulnerable, even for those who were born and raised in the country. As a result, millions of people were blocked from health, education, and social services. Families and communities face adversities as undocumented citizens struggle to access decent employment and legal protection, or they are denied their voting rights in an election. The right to a legal identity goes beyond an abstract recognition of existence by the state. In Indonesia, as in most countries in the world, legal identity facilitates life opportunities. The Centre for Child Protection and Wellbeing PUSKAPA, University of Indonesia, has been focusing on improving this situation based on evidence, systems thinking, and strategic advocacy. In this MISS event Santi discussed all these issues with comments from Putri Kusuma Amanda and Shaila Tieken from the PUSKAPA team.
MISS 6 - August 5
Genre Publics: Popular Music, Technologies and Class in Indonesia
Presenter - A/Prof Emma Baulch, Associate Professor of Media and Communications (Monash University Malaysia)
MISS 7 - September 2
LGBTIQ Activism in the Time of COVID-19: Constraints and Unexpected Opportunities
Presenters - Dede Oetomo, Hendri Yulius Wijaya,Alegra Wolter, Stephanie Kevin Halim, Associate Professor Irwan M. Hidayana
In this MISS we were delighted to bring a panel of speakers together. Our panel shared their thoughts and experiences of LGBTIQ+ activism during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. The panel discussed topics such as the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ+ organizations, the importance of acceptance within family and society for trans people, and the importance of effective advocacy.
As we can’t bring our community together at the moment, MISS has gone digital in 2020.
We are delighted to present the first MISS Podcast hosted by Julian Millie, Professor of Indonesian Studies and Acting Director of the Monash Herb Feith Centre featuring guest Margaret Kartomi AM, FAHA, Professor Emeritus, Ethnomusicology and Director of the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU).
Margaret Kartomi has been researching Indonesian music in field settings for more than fifty years. In this conversation, Margaret reflects back upon some of those settings, the musical forms she encountered, and the Indonesians who helped her in her research. The conversation covers some surprising topics: her experiences studying at a famous East German musicological institution; the benefits she received through her close collaboration with her husband; and, the sound recording technology she utilised. She reveals the music genre that remains most powerful in her memory: Indonesian genres of lament.
To find out more about Margaret's newly published book mentioned in this podcast, Performing the Arts of Indonesia: Malay Identity and Politics in the Music, Dance and Theatre of the Riau Islands, please click here.
Our latest Podcast features one of Australia’s leading sociologists of Indonesia, Conjoint Professor Pam Nilan of the the University of Newcastle. Professor Julian Millie joined Pam to reflect on her decades of research into youth in Australia and Indonesia.
Much of Professor Pam Nilan’s work has involved scrutinising the concept of ‘global youth’ in Indonesian contexts, where the concept is complicated within distinctive cultures of religion, consumption and family hierarchy. Her reflections in this podcast include some important musings on her experiences as a ‘western women’ researching Islam in Indonesia, and concludes with descriptions of her current projects on catholic youth in Yogyakarta and the attraction felt by Australian youth to far-right nationalism.
Hosted by Associate Professor Sharyn Davies, Director of the Monash Herb Feith Centre, this webinar explores The Wandering, a novel about the highs and lows of global nomadism, the politics and privileges of travel and desire, and the freedoms and limitations of the choices we make.This webinar will also discuss issues on the state of literature in Indonesia, the joys and trials of translation and the need for more Indonesian literature available in English.
'The Wandering', written by Indonesian author Intan Paramaditha and translated into English by Associate Professor Stephen Epstein, is celebrated by The Guardian as “an ingenious choose-your-own-adventure challenge.” The novel was selected as Tempo's Best Literary Fiction and shortlisted for the Khatulistiwa Literary Award. It received a PEN Translates Award from the English PEN.
Presenters: Dr Jemma Purdey, Dr Antje Missbach and Dr Dave McRae
Discussant: Dr Dina Afrianty
Despite its size and unique geography, Indonesia is rarely included in lists of emerging powers and economies, such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping. Its absence contrasts with Indonesia’s global role at the peak of its international influence in the 1950s and 1960s, when Indonesia initiated the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and positioned itself at the helm of an anti-imperialist bloc of new emerging forces. What accounts for Indonesia’s current modest international profile? Is it simply an under-rated country, or has its influence genuinely waned as a result of various aspects of Indonesia’s domestic affairs? In Indonesia: State and Society in Transition (Lynne Rienner, 2020), Jemma Purdey, Antje Missbach and Dave McRae present a comprehensive survey of Indonesia’s contemporary politics, society and culture, to inform our answer to these questions.
In this MISS seminar, Jemma, Dave, Antje and Dina will offer their thoughts on Indonesia’s standing and how the country is perceived and studied from the outside.
Between 1950 and 1965, Indonesia’s left-leaning writers and artists gathered within an umbrella body known as The Institute for People’s Culture (LEKRA). The year 1965 saw the purging of the political left in Indonesia. LEKRA was banned and its members were imprisoned, executed and marginalised. For the next 32 years, LEKRA came to be defined officially through the eyes of its ideological opponents.
In 1986, Monash University's Centre of Southeast Asian Studies published Social Commitment in Literature and the Arts: The Indonesian Institute of People's Culture,1950-1965 by Keith Foulcher. This book was an analysis of LEKRA and its history from the point of view of the organisation's own documentary record and the views of some of its former members. In Indonesia, the publication was seen as highly controversial, because in many ways it ran counter to the official New Order version of LEKRA and its history.
Earlier this year, the Bandung-based publisher Pustaka Pias published a translation of Foulcher's 1986 monograph under the title Komitmen Sosial dalam Sastra dan Seni: Sejarah LEKRA 1950-1965. This is a significant publication, with 1000 copies being sold in the first month alone. In Rima Febriani's translation, Foulcher's account of this important chapter of Indonesian history has now been made available for Indonesian readers. The publication reflects a thawing of Indonesia’s public conversation about difficult aspects of the nation’s history.
To mark the publication of Komitmen Sosial dalam Sastra dan Seni: Sejarah LEKRA 1950-1965, Julian sits down with Keith and Kelana to discuss Keith's experiences in writing the book and the events that unfolded subsequent to the publication.
Take a look back at our MISS events held throughout 2019.