Kamis, 02 Februari 2017

In Search of Middle Indonesia

In Search of Middle Indonesia, Middle Classes in Provincial Towns
Gerry van Klinken & Ward Berenschot
Brill Leiden Boston
Tahun Cetak

The collective writing effort that led to this book began with a brainstorming workshop at Gadjah Mada University in July 2005. We talked about the rapid social changes surrounding Indonesia’s 1998 economic crisis, democratization, and decentralization. Previous work on the nation’s local politics had made several of us aware of the mediated nature of these complex processes (Schulte Nordholt and Van Klinken 2007b; Van Klinken and Barker 2009; Aspinall and Van Klinken 2011). People in intermediate social and geographical locations influenced outcomes just by being able to pass on information and resources to others. Why had so little research been done on the middle classes in provincial towns who did much of this mediating work? we asked ourselves. We decided to put ‘Middle Indonesia’ on the research agenda.

In March 2007, most of the junior and senior researchers associated with the research programme ‘In Search of Middle Indonesia’ met for the first time in Leiden. Our host was the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), secretariat for the programme. We had been awarded generous funding by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) under the second Scientific Program Indonesia-Netherlands (SPIN). KITLV also contributed research funding of its own.

Altogether 17 researchers joined in - five PhD candidates (one funded from outside), four postdoctoral research fellows who came to KITLV for a year or more, and eight postdoctoral fellows on shorter visits. About half came from Indonesia, the rest from all over the world. Three Dutch institutions participated in the consortium along with KITLV and Gadjah Mada: the University of Amsterdam, Leiden University, and the Institute of Social Studies (The Hague). Together with six senior supervisorresearchers, and a healthy number of outside friends, we enjoyed many workshops and conferences, in Indonesia and the Netherlands. If this volume has any merit, it is due to the unforgettable collegiality of those meetings. Of the many people who pushed us to sharpen our thinking, two deserve special mention. The Oxford University economist Barbara Harriss-White, whose work on Indian provincial towns had inspired many of us, was a stimulating presence at the conference in September 2010. And Henk Schulte Nordholt, research director at KITLV, was our most unstintingly loyal supporter and critic throughout.

The present volume represents only a sample of the output the programme produced. Its authors were asked to explain what fresh light their empirical work shed on this extraordinarily productive yet poorly understood social zone we had called Middle Indonesia. We hope by this approach to stimulate others to focus on the exchanges taking place in the middle levels of this complex society.

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