Indonesian Postgraduate Student Discussion Series


The University of Melbourne has a large and lively Indonesian postgraduate student community. To help foster critical inquiry and the interrogation of ideas and theories, the Indonesia Forum supports postgraduate students to convene a monthly discussion series on contemporary Indonesian issues. These public discussions often engage University of Melbourne academics, visiting scholars, as well as Indonesia-based academics and civil society activists via video link.



“Hantu Lama Bersemi Kembali”

19 September 2018

Speakers: Professor Saskia Weiringa (University of Amsterdam), Roro Sawita (Taman 65)

Broadly speaking, the topic will be on the politics of human rights by specifically discussing the issues of 1965. How do we assess this issue especially under the Jokowi administration? What are the challenges and opportunities to address the human rights violations especially associated with 1965 issue? What are the problems and achievement of the existing approaches or measures? What is the prospect of the human right issues after the 2019 election? Prior to the discussion, a documentary “Sekeping Kenangan” (produced by Taman 65, 2018) was screened.


“20 Years of Reformasi: Democratisation and Its Challenges”

25 August 2018

Speakers: Prof Vedi Hadiz (Asia Institute), Prof Ariel Heryanto (Monash University), Prof Greg Barton (Deakin University), Dr Dirk Tomsa (La Trobe University), Dr Helen Pausacker (CILIS), Dr Ken Setiawan (Asia Institute), Dr Amanda Ahmadi (Melb School of Design)

The discussion addresses the current state of Indonesia’s democratisation, by linking it to the challenges for the 2019 elections. Following the demise of the authoritarian regime, institutional reforms have not brought about a substantial change. Prominent problems such as inequality, corruption, and human rights violations still persist. Particularly since 2017, the politicisation of identity for electoral contests has been a pressing issue. Not only perpetuating exclusionary politics and thus polarising societies, mobilisation of identity-based politics also significantly influences the workings of Indonesian democracy. Recently, scholars have come to argue that Indonesia’s democracy is experiencing a noticeable setback, even from those who are previously optimistic of democratic transition and consolidation. How do we understand the trajectories of Indonesia’s democracy? How do the current socio-political conditions affect the upcoming elections? What are the consequences for the future of democratisation agenda?


Reform from Within”: The Pathways to Change?”

30 July 2018

Speakers:  Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto (Mayor of Bogor), Dr Dirk Tomsa (La Trobe University),  Primatia R. Wulandari, PhD Cand.

The discussion explores the challenges of bringing about a more substantive reform in democratising Indonesia from the view of academic-cum-politician, Mayor Bima Arya of Bogor municipality, West Java. Specifically, it deals with some critical issues: What are the challenges to the reforms in current Indonesia? How to navigate between the reform agenda and the deep-vested interests of the dominant coalition of power, especially when cross-cutting movements for the reform itself are relatively weak? With the prominence of identity politics and exclusionary political practices for electoral mobilisation, how these will affect the democratic reforms, political representation of the parties, and state-society relations in general.  


“Gender, Sexuality and Morality in Contemporary Indonesia”

30 May 2018

Speakers: Dr. Linda Bennett Bennett (Melbourne School of Population and Global Health); Belinda Spagnoletti (Researcher, Nossal Institute for Global Health)

This session discusses morality agendas in the recent Indonesian context. More specifically how reformasi influenced morality debates in Indonesia by both opening and foreclosing opportunities for tolerance around gender and sexuality. In the past two decades, the social currency attributed to morality issues and debates in the public sphere increased significantly. How have democratisation and various moral panics around gender and sexuality have been articulated in the widening space for social and moral critique?


“Habis Gelap Sudahkah Terang? Rethinking Women Challenges in Current Indonesia”

19 April 2018

Speakers: Dr. Helen Pausacker (CILIS), Nurul Mahmudah (Melbourne Law School)

Habis Gelap Sudahkah Terang? is organised to commemorate the Kartini day, 21 April. In this monthly discussion, we will discuss the challenges faced by women in current Indonesia. While the sources of oppression are dissimilar with those during the Kartini days, it does not necessarily mean that emancipation projects become easier. Socio-economic factors, cultural and religious practices even certain formal regulations still predominantly influence women’s lives. What kinds of oppression faced by current Indonesian women? Why and how does this condition take place? How should we deal with such challenges?


“Asimetris: A Documentary”

14 March 2018

Speakers: Dr Suraya Affif (University of Indonesia), Bahruddin (SSPS), Lilis Mulyani (MLS)

This documentary captures the environmental tragedy in Indonesia. It specifically looks at the complexities of the expansion of oil palm plantations especially in Kalimantan that resulted in haze calamity, affecting more than 69 million lives. Occupying more than 11 millions hectare lands, about the size of Java, oil palm plantations expand significantly in Sumatera, Kalimantan, and even Papua. While focusing on its impacts on the environment and the people, the documentary also reveals the influences of oil palm sector which span from governmental offices, security apparatuses, global actors as well as the media. The screening by the Indonesia Forum becomes the first event taking place outside Indonesia, after its grand launching in 25 Indonesian cities on 13 March 2018.


“Is Deradicalisation Possible? The Story of Indonesians Turning Away from Extremism

1 March 2018

Speakers: Solahuddin, Dr Dave McRae (Asia Institute)

This monthly discussion addresses the issues and challenges of deradicalisation efforts in Indonesia. By specifically looking at the stories of Indonesians turning away from extremism, the discussion will show the complexities and dynamics of deradicalisations at the societal level from the perspectives of former terrorist convicts and victims. What conditions that make possible for such a process to take place? What are the challenges? How to extend such deradicalisation initiative into a more comprehensive and long-term peace?  


“Religious Freedom and Minority Groups in Indonesia”

23 February 2018

Speakers: Professor Ariel  Heryanto (Monash University), Rachma Safitri Yogasari (Yayasan Kampung Halaman)

The right to religious freedom has been guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution since independence in 1945, but minority groups and the adherents of indigenous beliefs have always been a subject to discrimination. They have to struggle not only to receive recognition and protection from the state but also to gain an equal access to various public services. In democratised Indonesia, cases of religious violence and intolerance even increase significantly. These important issues that have brought public attention in contemporary Indonesia will be addressed in our monthly discussion organised by Indonesian Postgraduate Students in Melbourne. Ahu Parmalim and Karatagan Ciremai, two films about Indonesia’s minority groups produced by Yayasan Kampung Halaman, will be screened prior to the discussion.