Conference on Social Faultlines in Indonesia: Persistence and Change in An Evolving Landscape

Aninda Dewayanti Announcement
Subject Fields
Humanities, Social Sciences, Southeast Asian History / Studies, Political Science, Demographic History / Studies

With around 279.1 million people in 2022, Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world after China, India, and the US. Also known as the largest archipelagic country, the Indonesian population is spread over 17,504 islands. The wide geographical variation in Indonesia is accompanied by a high diversity of the social and cultural backgrounds of its population. This diversity has been a critical element in the political, economic, and socio-cultural life of the nation since its inception.

Highly diverse populations are susceptible to increased polarisation and reduced social cohesion within Indonesian society. This has been the case since the early stirrings of nationalism in the early 20th century. During the Sukarno era, there were already calls for decentralization to address interests arising from regional diversity. This became muted during the Suharto era, where social divisions were wrapped under the governance of SARA (ethnicity, religion, race, and other social divisions) issues. Subsequently, post-Reformasi implementation of regional autonomy was an attempt at addressing long-repressed interests associated with social and regional diversity, but by then, some of these divisions had evolved into deep social faultlines that led to the eruption of ethnic and religious violence. While such violence has become less common since the early days of regional autonomy, the social faultlines continue to hold sway in Indonesia through identity politics, especially since direct elections were introduced.

This conference seeks to examine these faultlines in their various iterations, and in terms of how they structure the national imaginary, as well as the political, economic and socio-cultural life of the nation. Beyond the conventional religious divides, are there new religious identities that have emerged and evolved? Where ethnic identities are concerned, have certain boundaries become more porous, or are there boundaries that have become steeper, as a result of changing demographic patterns or ecologies of resource allocation? At the same time, regional autonomy has also deepened, in some cases, the divide between migrants and those who claim autochthony.

This conference aims to provide a platform for academic dialogue on multifaceted issues related to demographic diversity in Indonesia today. It takes into account the processes that lead to the persistence of social faultlines, how they are negotiated and managed, and how new faultlines emerge.

We welcome papers based on the following themes and scope:

Theme 1: Demographic Diversity in Modern Indonesia

Theme 2: Social Divisions and Post-Reformasi Electoral Politics

Theme 3: Migration and its Discontents

Theme 4: Religion and Ethnicity in the Age of Digital Disruption

Theme 5: Social Faultlines and the Economics and Politics of Social Inclusion/Exclusion

Theme 6: New Religious Identities and Order

Theme 7: What It Means to be a Minority in Indonesia Today

Theme 8: Mapping Heritage and Cultural Identities

Please see our website for full theme descriptions.


Conference Date and Venue

Date: Tuesday-Wednesday, 29-30 August 2023
Venue: Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore
(Limited travel funds will be provided.)

Important Dates

Deadline for abstract submission: 31 March 2023
Notification of accepted abstracts: 14 April 2023
Full paper Submission: 15 August 2023

Abstract Submissions

We invite contributors to submit an abstract of 250 words. Abstracts should indicate which theme the paper is intended for, and include proposed research questions, main argument, and methodology. Submissions should also include a title, name of the author(s), institutional affiliation(s), e-mail address(es), and personal biography of 150 words. They should be submitted to Ms Aninda Dewayanti at

Those whose abstracts are accepted will be expected to submit a full paper of between 5000-7000 words. Selected papers will later be included in an edited volume.

Contact Information

Aninda Dewayanti, Research Officer, Indonesia Studies Programme at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute

Contact Email