In the beginning, nations emerged in various parts of the world as a form of new solidarity based on equality that resolves, instead of negates, ethnic, racial or religious differences. However, in many parts of the world, the history of national awakening or independence is often inseparable from racial violence, including in the Americas, Europe, Australia and Indonesia.

Heryanto, Ariel (2020) “Solidarity”, Kompas, 4/07/2020.
This piece is Kompas translation of the original in Indonesian, click here.

keywords: Bersiap, Black Lives Matter, Papua, Racism, Chinese

Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia

Click 2019_09_05 Conversation Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia-c

The prevailing hyper-nationalism betrays the modern and cosmopolitan idea of nationhood, which inspired the Indonesian nationalist movement a century ago.

It was a nationalism that is inseparable from internationalism, and the idea of human equality and dignity, as already enshrined in the preamble of the Indonesian constitution.

Heryanto, Ariel (2002) “Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia”, The Conversation, 5/09/2019, <;.

keywords: anthem, colonial, fascism, native, New Order, NKRI,

Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing

Click Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation-c

The notion of hero versus villain is understood differently across time, nations, and even within a single nation-state. Yet, it is still common in many of these instances that those who disagree on the issue can nonetheless exchange views and engage in some form of debate. This chapter examines a radically different case, where the understanding of heroes and villains in one discursive practice is incommensurate and inverted in another.

Heryanto, Ariel (2019) “Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing”, in B. Korte, S. Wendt and N. Falkenhayner (eds), Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Contemporary Culture, Routledge: New York, pp. 167-188.

keywords: Cold War, Communist, Discourse, Indonesia, Nazism, New Order

Decolonising Indonesia, Past and Present

Click: 2018_Vol42-No4_ASR Decolonising Indonesia Past and Present-c

In the pursuit of an “authentically Indonesian” nation-state, for decades Indonesians have denied the civil rights of fellow citizens for allegedly being less authentically Indonesian. A key to the longstanding efficacy of such exclusionary ethno-nationalism is the failure to recognise the trans-national solidarity that helped give birth to independent Indonesia.

Ariel Heryanto (2018) Decolonising Indonesia, Past and Present, Asian Studies Review, 42 (4): 607-625, DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2018.1516733

keywords Cold War, colonial, ethnonationalism, identity, Indonesia, Indonesia Calling, Left, trans-national

Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect

2002_11_27 RN-ABC Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect-c

As French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said, “cultures are those what goes without saying”. To ask why Amrozy and the police should smile is almost like asking why English speaking people always open an official letter with the greeting ‘Dear ….’, even if this is a letter of very serious complaint or protest.

Heryanto, Ariel (2002) “Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect”, Radio National ABC, 27//11/2002,

keywords: Amrozy, Bali bombing, Pierre Bourdieu, smile

The biggest hoax of all: the 30 September Movement

Click 2018_01_16_IaM_The biggest hoax of all-c

There are two common misconceptions about hoaxes. First, although the word “hoax” is a relatively new term in the Indonesian lexicon, it would be wrong to assume that hoaxes have only become a problem over the past few years, with the rise of social media. Second, hoax news cannot be resolved or debunked simply by providing accurate information as an alternative, especially when nothing is done about the primary hoax.

Heryanto, Ariel (2018) “The biggest hoax of all: the 30 September Movement”, Indonesia at Melbourne, 16/01/2018,

keywords: Budi Pego, Communism, Gerwani, Jokowi, Marxism, PKI

Popular Culture and Identity Politics

Click 2018_Popular Culture and Identity Politics-c

This chapter contends that an in-depth investigation into identity politics in popular culture is a critical component to studying the social life of this world’s fourth most populated nation. It shows how elite national politics and everyday cultural practices and contestations are mutually constitutive in complex and indirect ways, with a focus on identity politics in contemporary Indonesia as manifest in popular cultures.

Heryanto, Ariel (2018) “Popular Culture and Identity Politics”, in R. Hefner (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia, London: Routledge, pp. 357-368.

keywords: gender, Islam, Javanese, Jokowi, media, nationalism, SBY

Ideological Baggage and Orientations of the Social Sciences in Indonesia

Click 2005_Ideological Baggage and Orientations-c

Many -isms that at first appear to be radical, breakthrough forces, become inflexible and frozen as they grow in popularity and dominance. There are good and bad expressions and followers of every -ism. In polemics, there is always the temptation to highlight the opposition’s worst or weakest examples of theories, ideas and rationale, whilst emphasizing and using only the best among one’s own armory.

Heryanto, Ariel (2005) “Ideological Baggage and Orientations of the Social Sciences in Indonesia” in Social Science and Power in Indonesia, Vedi R. Hadiz and Daniel Dhakidae (eds), Jakarta and Singapore: Equinox, pp. 69-101.

keywords: culturalism, developmentalism, ideology, knowledge, liberalism, orientation, populism, structuralism

Click here for an Indonesian version

A Postcolonial Amnesia


“For centuries, what is now known as Southeast Asia has been a hub of transcontinental flows of people, religions and sciences.  . . . Such connections were salient features of the activities and events in the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century, well preceding the birth of nations in this region. Significantly, these engagements involved multi-ethnic and multilingual people from all walks of life in urban settings, rather than an exclusive preoccupation with a tiny elite of European descent in the colonies.”

Heryanto, Ariel (2016) “A Postcolonial Amnesia”, in D. Black, O. Khoo and K. Iwabuchi (eds), Contemporary Culture and Media in Asia, London: Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 13-29.

keywords: colonial, Dutch East Indies, global, Indonesia, national, Southeast Asia, trans-Asia