There is nothing new about religious diversity in Indonesia, as Indonesia has been diverse throughout its history. However, over the past few years diversity has become a hot topic again, one that feels increasingly urgent since finding more space for expression through the nation’s process of democratization since 1998. This space for public expression can become an arena for cooperation, but the more variants of diversity there are, both inter and intra-religious, the more the propensity there is for interaction that can spark conflict or even violence. At the same time, civil society strengthens efforts to overcome the problems that emerge from the intersection of diverse individual aspirations and religious groups in the public space.
Are there are any common characteristics that have emerged in the study of the management of religious diversity in Indonesia? Did the Reformasi era display a different approach to the management of religious diversity? At the level of civil society, how far have the efforts to respond to diversity come? How are these efforts and the state’s management of diversity connected? Can we identify different types of advocacy efforts aimed at overcoming these issues that have emerged from civil society organizations? Are there tensions between these different kinds of advocacy?
These are some of the questions that are addressed in two new books published by the Program for Religious and Cross Cultural Studies (CRCS) at University GadjahMada’s graduate school. The first book, entitled Managing Diversity and Freedom of Religion: History, Theory and Advocacy(MengelolaKeragamandanKebebasanBeragama: Sejarah, TeoridanAdkokasi) focuses on the history of diversity management up until the current post-Reformasi era; it also discusses the theoretical framework and the “big picture” of advocacy for diversity. As the subtitle Reflection on Advocacy suggests, the second book presents reflections by activists who discuss their experiences and various approaches to advocacy – approaches that sometimes exist in tension with one another.
Along with the publication of these two books, this site presents other related essays that detail activist’s reflections on the problems they have faced and the some of the advocacy activities that constitute their responses to these challenges. These essays also display some of the civil society organizations that are active in the field of diversity advocacy.
These two recently published books (in Indonesia) can be accessed at ADVOCACY BOOK FOR DIVERSITY AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION. Additional material on the related theme of the activities of civil society activist organizations in interreligious dialogue can be found in one of the chapters from the book at Interreligious Dialogue: Ideas and Practice published by CRCS in 2011.
A number of more specific reflections by activists can be found at Essays Reflecting on Advocacy organized under three main themes: youth, public policy, and marginalization.
We invite readers to comment or to add their own reflections on advocacy efforts they have conducted related to issues of religious diversity. Reader contributions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.