Education About Asia: Online Archives

Beyond the Horizon: Short Stories From Contemporary Indonesia

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Teaching about Indonesia can be a daunting task. The world’s fourth most populous country, and the one with the most Muslims, has more than 300 separate cultures and languages on a diverse archipelago of more than 14,000 islands in the South Seas. The notion of “Indonesia” itself is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1940s. Compared to other large Asian nations, we seem to bring limited general knowledge (and textbook coverage) to Indonesia and her peoples. So how do we get beyond the towering mountain peaks of stories about forest fires burning out of control, economic collapse, and street disorders in the post-Suharto era, to get into the valleys where the people live, to gain an understanding of family and village life and that which is distinctive about some of the peoples and cultures of modern Indonesia? How do we go beyond a generalized overview to show some of the ways that modernization and headlong economic globalization have transformed traditional life?