Social Faultlines in Indonesia: Persistence and Change in An Evolving Landscape


About the Conference

With around 279.1 million people spread over 17,504 islands, Indonesia has a highly diverse population that has shaped the political, economic, and socio-cultural life of the nation since its inception. Highly diverse populations are susceptible to increased polarisation and reduced social cohesion, and this has been the case in Indonesia since the early stirrings of nationalism in the early 20th century. During the Sukarno era, there were already calls for decentralization to address interests arising from regional diversity. This became muted during the Suharto era, where social divisions were wrapped under the governance of SARA (ethnicity, religion, race, and other social divisions) issues. Subsequently, post-Reformasi implementation of regional autonomy was an attempt at addressing long-repressed interests associated with social and regional diversity, but by then, some of these divisions had evolved into deep social faultlines that led to the eruption of ethnic and religious violence. While such violence has become less common since the early days of regional autonomy, the social faultlines continue to hold sway in Indonesia through identity politics, especially since direct elections were introduced.

This conference seeks to examine these faultlines in their various iterations, and in terms of how they structure the national imaginary, as well as the political, economic and socio-cultural life of the nation. Beyond the conventional religious divides, are there new religious identities that have emerged and evolved? Where ethnic identities are concerned, have certain boundaries become more porous, or are there boundaries that have become steeper, as a result of changing demographic patterns or ecologies of resource allocation? At the same time, regional autonomy has also deepened, in some cases, the divide between migrants and those who claim autochthony.

This conference aims to provide a platform for academic dialogue on multifaceted issues related to demographic diversity in Indonesia today. It takes into account the processes that lead to the persistence of social faultlines, how they are negotiated and managed, and how new faultlines emerge.

This event is co-organised by the Indonesia Studies Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS), Singapore, and the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities (IPSH), National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Indonesia.

This conference is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

Please refer to the programme here for further details (updated as of 7 August 2023).


This two-day Conference will be delivered both online and on-site at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

Attending the Event In-person at ISEAS

To join the event in-person at ISEAS, please register via this link. Or scan the QR code below.

Seating capacity is limited. Do register early to avoid disappointment.

Attending the Event Virtually via Webinar

To join the event virtually at the specified date and time using your internet devices, please register via the following links to receive your unique login link for the webinar via the zoom platform.

Day 1 (Tuesday, 29 August 2023) – Please register here.

Day 2 (Wednesday, 30 August 2023) – Please register here.

If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Aug 29 - 30 2023

More Info



ISEAS Seminar Room 1 & 2 / Webinar