PANEL 3B – Identity, Culture & Heritage


Panel 3B – Identity, Culture & Heritage–Commonality & Alterity within Cosmopolitan & Historical Territories 

This panel aims to present several cases of collective struggle for the preservation of vernacular know-how, religious practices and values. The social groups described have to manage profound and, sometimes, brutal economic and political transformations, following the global trends that see 1. the integration of nation-states into the global economy, which intersects in a triangular relationship with 2. the reinforcement of states as social regulators and with 3. the resulting tension amid territorial, communitarian, or religious identities (Jean-François Bayart 2017).

  • Conservative identity-centered movements, based on religious, nationalist, or ethnicist repertoires, are often promoted and sponsored by the States, or essentialised by the regional-scale governments. How can the social groups contribute to affirming their heritage and culture without falling into the trap of reification and the political uses of formalized identity?
  • How can individuals emancipate themselves from identity-based normative frames and, reciprocally, how can collective action and organization defend their values in front of liberal anti-social political tendencies and individualistic development models? How can vulnerable populations, such as minority political groups, autochthonous people, and migrant populations, be taken into consideration in relation to the territorial and memorial issues they face?


Host institution: SEA Junction (Co-Host: ALTERSEA)

Chairperson: Jamie S. Davidson (National University of Singapore)


Eduardo Erlangga Drestanta (Paris-Sorbonne, France)Customary Village (Desa Adat) and Inter-Ethnic conflict in Ceram Island, Moluccas

Abstract: This presentation introduces the socio-spatial issues of inter-ethnic relations in Ceram Island, Moluccas, regarding the implementation of the law of customary village (Desa adat) No. 6 of 2014, which is at the core of the current regional autonomy policies in Indonesia. This work highlights the implication of Desa Adat recognized as ‘Negeri Adat’ in Moluccas that opened up the chance of minority groups normally termed “primitive”/“backward” to suddenly emerge as political actors. Yet, this ‘revival of Adat’ also generated into ‘rivalry of Adat’ that created other confusion and identity claims, encouraging the increase of the demand for village fragmentation (Pemekaran Desa). However, this discourse of Adat still remains unclear and fluid to be discussed. Through ethnographic methods and participatory mapping, this work examines how the Masihulan as a minority group in Ceram Nord, distinct and defining itself as the ‘Alifuru’, has the opportunity to split into a new village from their previous principal village Sawai. Nevertheless, on the other side, this situation exacerbates local tensions that may create disintegration.

Keywords: regional autonomy, pemekaran desa, law of desa adat, inter-ethnic relation, Ceram Island, Moluccas. 

Bio & Contact: Eduardo Erlangga Drestanta is currently a doctoral candidate in Geography at Paris Sorbonne University, under the guidance of Prof. Olivier Sevin. He is interested in ethno-geography and anthropology, with his dissertation’s topic focusing upon socio-spatial issues of inter-community relations derived from autonomy regional politics in Ceram Island, Moluccas, eastern Indonesia

Video presentation


Eka Ningtyas (INALCO-Paris, France) The first Indonesian Kebatinan Congress of 1955

Abstract: Kebatinan is a religious community that was first established in 1955 with the Semarang theosophical group’s support. This article concentrates on the formation of religiosity discourse in the Indonesian kebatinan congress of 1955 as a response to the relationship between state and society within the framework of the political religion of the 1950s Indonesia. The main problems discussed in this article are concerning the idea of ​​kebatinan formation and the debates that arise in it, and how was the position of kebatinan and religion in religious discourse in the Indonesian 1950s. It argues that in the 1950s, Indonesia’s religious discourse and expression were still fluid and began to take shape. It can be proven by the formation of an umbrella organization for kebatinan by their adherents who consider themselves different from religion. The article bases its analysis on the first Indonesian kebatinan congress’s discourse, derived from the official congress report. In this congress record, we can find issues related to the conceptualization of kebatinan, education, the relation between kebatinan and religion, and concerns related to women’s position in society. As a historical study, this article uses an intellectual historical approach based on using the official report of the kebatinan Congress and the news about the event in contemporary newspapers and magazines as its primary sources.

Keywords: kebatinan, Indonesian kebatinan congress, religious, discourse, religion.

Bio & Contact: Eka Ningtyas is a lecturer at the Program of study in History at Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate from the Department of History, Society and Civilization, Institut National des Langues et Civilisation Orientales (INALCO) Paris, under the supervision of Prof. Etienne Naveau from CERLOM-INALCO and Dr. Remy Madinier from Institut d’Asie Orientale, ENS-Lyon. Her doctoral research focuses on Javanism in the political, religious, and literary discourse in modern Indonesia.

Video presentation

Hamzah Fansuri (Heidelberg University, Germany) – Hijrah Phenomena among Indonesian Celebrities: Contesting Identity through Urban Mobility

Abstract: This presentation analyzes the struggle of the hijrah community for their identity in the context of increasingly plural urban public spaces. Although several studies have attempted to examine this group of hijrah, most have focused on new media (see: Nisa, 2018; Slama, 2017; Akmaliah, 2020), and only a few have revealed their daily mobilities in urban life. This paper will focus on urban Muslims from the Kajian Musawarah, one of the influential hijrah communities based in Jakarta and a new socio-religious movement.  I will support my argument based on data obtained through extensive literature study. Then, I will use the new paradigm of mobility popularized by Urry (2007), in which there are five interrelated dimensions, namely physical travel, physical movement, imaginative travel, virtual travel, and communicative travel. Thanks to these methodological and analytical entries, this presentation shows that the identity of the Kajian Musawarah‘s members is formed within the framework of what Castells calls « legitimizing identity » (2010): through urban mobility, they contest many social dimensions and define their position within society.

Keywords: hijrah, identity, mobility, urban Muslims, contestation.

Bio & Contact: Hamzah Fansuri is a doctoral student at the Institute of Ethnology, Heidelberg University. Currently, he is working on “Identity and Mobility: Hijrah Phenomena among Urban Muslims in Post-Suharto Indonesia”. Previously, he was graduated with a master’s degree in sociology at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. In 2015, his master’s thesis published by LP3ES entitled “Sosiologi Indonesia: Antara Kekuasaan dan Reproduksi Pengetahuan”.

Video presentation