Living with difference in rural Indonesia: What can be learned for national and regional political agendas?

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Much research has sought to understand why mixed communities in Indonesia have been torn apart by violent conflict. By contrast, little is known about how people live together successfully in the mixed, low-conflict communities that exist in abundance throughout the Indonesian archipelago. This paper explores the inter-communal relations in the multiethnic, Christian-Muslim coastal village of Oelua in Roti, Nusa Tenggara Timur province. Mechanisms of agreement across ethnic, religious and livelihood differences have shaped and reproduced a low-conflict community — including transfers of land, labour, technology and surplus; use of customary law and conflict management; and social mixing and interpersonal relations. The findings suggest that there are lessons to be learned from communities like Oelua about how to foster social and economic inclusion, which could inform national and regional political agendas concerned with governing difference in a post-New Order Indonesia.


School of Arts

Document Type

Journal Article

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ERA Access