Landscape, Memory, and Contested Identity: Living Interreligiously in Indonesia Today

Landscape, Memory, and Contested Identity: Living Interreligiously in Indonesia Today

This presentation was originally written for and presented at the International Conference on Religion, Business, and Contestation, Petaling Jaya, University of Malaya, 28 June 2012.

In this presentation,  I will discuss three  interconnected  elements that depict current interreligious life in  Indonesia, which are the religious landscape, the memory of the Muslim-Christian communal violence,   and the contested religious  identity. The religious landscape  signifies the  complex relationship between identity and memory in the construction of the  Indonesian narrative. 

Comparing the  religious landscape  (i.e., mosques  and churches)  in three areas  in Indonesia—the  city of Kendari, the capital  of Southeast Sulawesi province;  the  Christian village  of Duma in  North  Halmahera of North  Maluku province;  and Jakarta, the capital  of Indonesia—I will demonstrate the ways  in which these  communities’ views  of the landscape and their relationships to the landscape have been shaped by the multiple layers  of interreligious  relationship, the memory of religious  communal violence, and the construction of religious  collective  identity.  Religious landscape, thus, has become  a manifestation of the  religious  community’s  self-understanding as  it is  constructed in the contested  public space.  Consequently, looking at religious landscape as a symbol  of the Indonesian narrative of interreligious life reveals the  dimension of religious  identity as  a contested  discourse.

This presentation consists  of three parts.  First is  a brief history of interreligious life in  Indonesia that depicts the interreligious, i.e.,  Muslim-Christian,  relationship from within the  intersection of the  national  and the local histories  of communal violence at the turn of the  century. Second is the  story of religious landscape in three areas  in  Indonesia. Three cases  illustrate the local dimensions  of interreligious  relationship  in  Indonesia by focusing on the locations  of mosques  and  churches. The three locations  are  chosen for their depictions  of Muslim-Christian relationship and the way in which they provide an understanding of the complexity of interreligious relationship  as  it takes  multiple forms  in public space. The third part looks  at the location of religious worship places  in public space as  a symbolic construction of the religious  collective self-identity. A theological concept of space  is  used in questioning how the  symbolic can shift to the real as  it negotiates, determines, and  even contests the contour of the public space  in which religious communities  construct their self-understanding.  Furthermore, using a post-colonial perspective, the final  section discusses the way in which the  interreligious landscape in today’s  Indonesia challenges the character of the public space in  Indonesia, which has become a liminal space in which the construction of religious  collective identity is embedded.

Key terms:  interreligious landscape, collective memory,  religious  identity, boundary, hybridity, liminality,  public space

Source: http://socsc.smu.edu.sg/sites/default/files/socsc/pdf/septemmy_lakawa.pdf

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