2023 Arief Budiman Public Lecture: Civil society, human rights and climate justice

Speaker: A.Prof Dirk Tomsa

Date: Thursday 23 November 2023

Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Host: Asia Institute

Location: William Macmahon Ball Theatre (107), Old Arts Building (149)

Arief Budiman rose to prominence as an activist and public intellectual at a time when human rights and democracy activists were under relentless pressure from the authoritarian New Order regime. Environmental NGOs, by contrast, suffered comparatively little harassment during this time as environmental issues were deemed to be largely unpolitical. Tolerated by Suharto’s regime, environmental groups became a fairly safe organisational haven for political activists, thus precipitating the formation of an environmental movement, which from the start combined concerns for nature with human rights advocacy and the pursuit of social justice.

These ideals of justice still underpin the struggle of Indonesia’s environmental movement today. But even though environmental threats to human rights have multiplied with climate change, and a new generation of activists has emerged, Indonesia’s environmental and climate justice movement is still struggling to grow into a potent force within Indonesia’s fragmented civil society.

In this presentation, Dirk Tomsa examined the reasons for the movement’s limited growth and ponder how the legacy of Arief Budiman’s activism might help invigorate climate activism in contemporary Indonesia.

This seminar was chaired by Dr Ken Setiawan.

Speaker bio

Dirk Tomsa is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Australia. His main research interests focus on Indonesian and comparative Southeast Asian politics, especially in the areas of democratisation and democratic decline, electoral and party politics, institutional change, and environmental politics. Dirk’s publications include Politics in Contemporary Indonesia: Institutional Change, Policy Challenges, and Democratic Decline (Routledge, 2022, with Ken MP Setiawan) as well as two co-edited volumes and numerous journal articles and book chapters on Indonesian and Southeast Asian politics. A/Prof Tomsa is a former student of the late Arief Budiman.

About the Arief Budiman Public Lecture

The Arief Budiman Public Lecture is held in honour of scholar, activist and public intellectual Arief Budiman (1941-2020), who was Foundation Professor of Indonesian at the University of Melbourne from 1997 to 2008. The Arief Budiman Lecture is supported by the Asian Studies Trust Fund, The University of Melbourne. This year will be the third annual Arief Budiman lecture held by the Indonesian Studies program.

This event is in collaboration with the University of Melbourne Indonesia Forum and held following the Indonesia Forum Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Conference. It is also funded by the Asian Studies Trust Fund.