I would say Colin’s Bill Simmons-esque post on our Indonesian meals is about 99% accurate. I might bump The Loving Hut up to B+/A- status. It’s not quite A range, but it is on the borderline. I also must admit that my taste buds have failed me a couple times. Normally Alex bails me out, he’s pretty conditioned to eating spicy food and general enjoys eating Sambal straight (seriously).
I mentioned in an earlier post that driving in Jogja can be a nerve-wracking experience, but I want to add that crossing any big street is even more terrifying. We Americans are used to looking left and then right as we cross the street, but it the complete opposite here in Jogja. Also there are no stoplights, so one’s ability to cross a street in Jogja really comes down to his or her ability to jaywalk. And in Jogja, jaywalking requires that you skillfully maneuver between speeding motorbikes and cars that wait until the last minute to stop. You really just have to put yourself out there and authoritatively stare down oncoming traffic. It is a very intimidating endeavor- Kind of like trying to cross Broadway in Times Square minus the traffic lights and crosswalks and plus more cars (if that is possible).
I want to talk about the research that I am doing this month, but bare with me for another paragraph about adjusting to life in Indonesia. Indonesians often start their day around 4 am with the call to prayer. We do not have class until 8:30am, so I still would like to ideally sleep in till around 7:30-8ish everyday. I’m a heavy sleeper so I have learned to sleep through the call to prayer, but our Wisma is located right next to a school and every morning around 7am I am woken up by the noises of furniture moving and children yelling. I know I sound a little silly, but who doesn’t like to sleep an extra hour? Anyways, Saturday during the day we went back to Jalan Malioboro to check out some Batik, and that night we went karaoking with our Bahasa teacher Ade. I was quite tired and really looking forward to sleeping in a little later on Sunday (perhaps 9am???). But this dream of mine was just not to be. There was a motorbike race on Sanata Dharma’s campus (which is adjacent to our Wisma) at 7am on Sunday, accompanied by a three-hour concert that lasted from 7am-10am. Who has a concert at 7am on a Sunday? I can sleep through the call to prayer, but I definitely cannot sleep through a three-hour concert. What would happen if someone tried to perform at Haverford at 7am on a Sunday? I shudder at the thought.
Ok, so a little bit about my summer research. For this month, while we are studying research methodologies with Leslie, we are also doing a mini-research project to practice what we are learning in the classroom. My partner, Laksmi Amalia, and I are studying the emergence of hard line Islamic groups since the fall of Suharto, and their impact on the Indonesian Government’s ability to promote a pluralistic society. Here is an excerpt from our project proposal:
“Since the collapse of the New Order government and removal of Suharto from office in 1998, Indonesian government and society have undergone numerous political and cultural changes. Politicians have attempted to introduce a variety of reforms during this time period including the development of a democracy and the failed implementation of a new educational system. The reformasi period of Indonesian politics has led to the development of government support for the right to freedom of speech. Indonesian society since the fall of Suharto has experienced free flowing political debate in the news media and increased artistic and cultural expression.
In recent years, Indonesia has also experienced the emergence of a powerful Islamic political and societal presence. The organization Front Pembela Islam (FPI) serves as one example of the many radical and violent religious organizations present in Indonesia. FPI and other hard line Islamic organizations have committed many acts of violence during the reformasi period of Indonesian democracy including attacks on members of the National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion, Shia Muslims, Catholics, Lady Gaga and other LGBT activists. These organizations have used violence to intimidate and silence people who have attempted speak freely and openly about a variety of sensitive issues in Indonesian politics. While the Indonesian government supports a pluralistic society and freedom of speech, it appears that some religious organizations are undermining these democratic efforts.
This research project endeavors to investigate the effectiveness of Indonesian democracy in promoting a pluralist society and to determine the actual strength of freedom of speech in current Indonesian society. Specifically, this research project will focus on the impact of radical Islam on the individual in Indonesia and whether or not that individual feels safe expressing his or her opinion in society. What impact have hard line Islamic organization had on the Indonesian individual’s capacity to express his or her beliefs? Do artists, members of the press and media, LGBT rights advocates and other vocal activists in Indonesian society feel intimidated by radical Islamic organizations? What is the impact of hard line Islamic organizations on the effectiveness of Indonesian democracy? Does Indonesian democracy promote a pluralist society?”
Laksmi and I are still trying to narrow our scope of research. We are hoping to interview people who have been the targets of religious violence, and learn more about how the presence of hard line organizations has made vocal members of society feel. We want to focus on gathering a variety of stories and perspectives on the issue of pluralism in Indonesian society. In addition to interviewing a variety of activists who have born the brunt of religious violence, we also want to speak with members of more moderate Islamic organizations and potentially even members of hard line organizations (although that might not be possible). Hopefully by the end of class today, Laksmi and I will have a solid list of people we can interview.
The next few weeks are going to be pretty interesting and intense. We are all starting to settle into a routine, and my life here in Jogja is getting pretty comfortable. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, now that I am comfortable it makes it easier for me to focus on the work that I want to do for the next few weeks. On the other hand, it means that I am not pushing myself to explore more of Jogja. I balance most of my days around 5 hours of class, readings, delicious meals and evening workouts. I am going to keep fighting the natural inertia that accompanies the development of daily routines. Hopefully I can use my research to take me to places that I haven’t been to yet. I would like to go to a Mosque and I still have yet to explore the Jogja Art Festival.
That is all for now. We have class soon. Sampai Jumpa!