Indonesia: Past, Present, and Future

Submitted by Geoffrey R. Waring on

October 10th 2017, Odegaard Library 220, UW Seattle, 10 AM – 3:30 pm

For the second year in a row, the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in San Francisco has partnered with the Southeast Asia Center’s Language Coordinator and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature, Pauli Sandjaja, to present a one-day symposium on topics that cut across regional boundaries and affect broad communities. This year’s symposium brings together scholars working across many disciplines to share their research about “Indonesia: Past, Present, and Future.”

Registration and breakfast begins at 9:15 and the Consulate General will graciously provide lunch for attendees and participants.

The first speaker, UW’s Walker Family Endowed Professor of History, Laurie Sears, will discuss Ayu Utami’s Fu Numeral Series.  The earlier work of Ayu Utami, one of Indonesia’s foremost contemporary writers, has proved fertile ground for Dr. Sears’ examination of novels as “situated testimonies.”  Dr. Sears will discuss this newer work in which Utami introduces her ideas of critical spiritualism and a critical path. Fu Numeral Series also explores issues of political correctness, police brutality, and physical deformity.

Etin Anwar, Professor of Religious Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will speak about “Islamic and Feminist Encounters: Pattern and Change in Indonesia.”  Dr. Anwar will trace the changes of Islamic and feminist encounters (from divergence to convergence) and locate sites of such encounters by examining their roots in nineteenth-century colonialism, their development, and then emergence in the 1990s.  She will also examine the role of Islamic reformism.

The first speaker of the afternoon session, Dr. Jamartin Sihite, is the CEO of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.  Dr. Sihite’s rehabilitation center currently cares for 650 orangutans.  Because of habitat loss from human encroachment, the orangutans still face dangers from forest fires and illegal wildlife trade after their release.  Forest conservation is an important part of BOSF’s mission.

The symposium concludes with a graduate student panel.  Desi Hanara, LL.M candidate at the Leiden School of Law, Netherlands, considers the Indonesian Constitutional Court as a potential engine to “mainstream” human rights in the region.  She proposes assessing the feasibility of establishing an Asian Human Rights Court and calls for the development of binding human rights instruments.

Adi Sarosa, Master of International Business candidate, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, argues that for Indonesia to reach its economic potential, it must rapidly transform its rural agricultural-based economy into an urban service-based manufacturing economy. This transformation requires huge investments that government alone cannot finance.  Sarosa proposes that Indonesia explore the idea of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) to fill the gap.