Category Archives: Indonesia

Facing gender inequality In Indonesia, not so different from the West

Last week, I sat on the floor of a community hall watching 12 men devour full plates of steamed corn, sweet potatoes, and bananas, washing down their mouthfuls with swigs of black coffee. The women who had graciously served this … Continue reading

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Jakartans claim public spaces wherever they can find room

If you have noticed the long lull between posts on this blog, you are simply watching what happens after about a year of living in a foreign country. What was once a surprising and obvious topic for a blog has … Continue reading

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After tense election season, Indonesians breathe sigh of relief

Today my Indonesian language teacher showed up for our lesson wearing a blue and red checkered shirt, typical of the supporters of the newly elected president Joko Widodo (known by his nickname, Jokowi). Today, it seems like the wait is finally … Continue reading

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Stark contrasts, historical ignorance on display in Indonesian presidential race

Watching the 2014 presidential campaign in Indonesia is sometimes like watching a bad movie’s overwrought metaphor for the tension between democracy and authoritarianism playing out in real life. The choices have narrowed since I last described the presidential candidates, and … Continue reading

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Southeast Asia’s forests: vital and vanishing

Forests are key for our food systems and our economy. Forests are a pantry for the world’s poor, and an incubator for biodiversity and unknown genetic material that could lead to vital scientific discoveries. Even those of us who think we live in urban environments may be more dependent on forests than we realize. Continue reading

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On a Javan volcano, tourists and brimstone

The mountain path was wide but steep. Tourists carried backpacks with water bottles and snacks, seeking exercise and fresh air. Meanwhile, local porters carried woven baskets, carefully balanced on bamboo rods, overflowing with impossibly lemon-yellow hunks of stone. Welcome to … Continue reading

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Indonesia’s legislative elections, even more complex than expected

On April 9th, 2014, across nearly 8,000 islands, the citizens of the world’s third-largest democracy cast ballots for over 235,000 candidates in legislative elections. The Wall Street Journal called it “a massive logistical undertaking”. In this complex environment, none of the … Continue reading

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For Balinese New Year, the meaning is in the doing

On the raucous party island of Bali, Nyepi is a fascinating example of one culture’s sanctity being preserved against the odds. Continue reading

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Volcano’s awakening a reminder of Indonesia’s vulnerabiility

On Thursday night, Mount Kelud, a volcano in eastern Java, blew a plume of smoke and ash 17 km into the air. The eruption shook the surrounding villages, which were soon covered in ash and rock….
In recent history, Indonesia has suffered more deaths due to volcanoes than any other country, or even volcanic region…. Continue reading

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Public works are too little, too late as the rainy season strikes

When it rains, it pours; in Jakarta, it floods. Last night I awoke to a familiar sound from our bathroom: drip … drip … drip. I was surprised that I could hear it over the pummeling of rain on our … Continue reading

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