Conference: Beyond the National: The Regional and Transnational Trajectories of Chinese Indonesians

About the Conference

The fall of the New Order regime in 1998 and the abolition of assimilation policies in the post-Suharto ushered in a “revival” of Chinese culture and identity politics in Indonesia. In particular, the post-Suharto years, with the rise of regional autonomy and identities, have also seen a more pronounced regional identity politics among ethnic Chinese keen to express their diverse regional origins. Externally, the rapid rise of China in the last fifteen years has become a significant factor that influenced Chinese Indonesian identity politics. For many Chinese Indonesians, the rise of China incited a feeling of pride towards one’s Chineseness, particularly after decades of forced assimilation. Furthermore, the burgeoning bilateral relationship between the PRC and Indonesia has seen Chinese Indonesian organisations and individuals playing a greater role in dealings between the two countries.

In the context of these new developments, new questions need to be asked with regards to the position and perceptions of contemporary post-Suharto Chinese Indonesians. For instance, how are Chinese Indonesians from different parts of Indonesia shaped by their regional contexts, and how does this affect their roles in local politics and economies? What roles do Chinese Indonesians play in contemporary Sino-Indonesian relations? How do Chinese Indonesians perceive Chinese identity and belonging at the time of China’s rise? At the other end of the spectrum, it also needs to be asked: how do non-Chinese Indonesians perceive the greater visibility of Chineseness in post-Suharto Indonesia? Furthermore, in an era of heightened connectivity, what sort of trans-national/trans-border/trans-local connections do Chinese Indonesians forge and maintain?

Today, the time is right for scholars to reassess the Chinese Indonesian situation and to potentially move beyond the conventional framework of the nation-state. This conference is intended to be a scholarly “update” on the contemporary history and ethnography of Chinese Indonesians. It is also intended to be a forum where both established and emerging scholars can introduce new directions and trends in Chinese Indonesian studies, particularly those with a transnational approach.

Keynote speaker:  Dr Mary Somers Heidhues

Conference programme: Click here for the programme

Registration: Attendance to the conference is free of charge but registration is required by 14 October 2016.  As seats are limited, please register early using this registration form. Admission to the conference can only be taken as confirmed upon receiving the written acceptance from ISEAS. For any queries, please feel free to e-mail: <>.


Oct 20 - 21 2016


9:00 am - 5:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2