First rule: There are no rules. These resources are completely free and at your disposal. Use as much, or as little, as you want. Study casually, or work to create a portfolio of academic work that will blow the socks off of the educational establishment.
Feel free to adapt the materials for your own purposes. We expect families, business people, backpackers, college students, high school kids, middle aged vacationers, and retirees who are on a late life adventure to take these materials and run with them. We’d be very happy for teachers or travel group leaders to add these materials to their study abroad packets as well.
The nature of open source is collaboration, so please feel free to contribute when you become aware of resources we haven’t listed, or you have project ideas that we haven’t developed. Send us your work and inspire others to reach higher and deeper as they travel!
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Buffet Style Learning
Does the menu look overwhelming? Looking for a formula to use as a skeleton for your studies in Indonesia?
- Two books
- Two films
- Three articles
- One Problem & Solution or Project Option
- One Cultural Assignment
Table of Contents
- Books for Kids
- Project Options
- Problems & Solutions
- Cultural Assignments
- Create Your Own Coursework
Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation
by Elizabeth Pisani
“A spectacular achievement and one of the very best travel books I have read.”―Simon Winchester, Wall Street Journal
Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would “work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.” With over 300 ethnic groups spread across over 13,500 islands, the world’s fourth most populous nation has been working on that “etc.” ever since. Author Elizabeth Pisani traveled 26,000 miles in search of the links that bind this disparate nation.
A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation
by Tim Hannigan
Indonesia is by far the largest nation in Southeast Asia and has the fourth largest population in the world after the United States. Indonesian history and culture are especially relevant today as the Island nation is an emerging power in the region with a dynamic new leader. It is a land of incredible diversity and unending paradoxes that has a long and rich history stretching back a thousand years and more.
Indonesia is the fabled “Spice Islands” of every school child’s dreams—one of the most colorful and fascinating countries in history. These are the islands that Europeans set out on countless voyages of discovery to find and later fought bitterly over in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. This was the land that Christopher Columbus sought and Magellan actually reached and explored. One tiny Indonesian island was even exchanged for the island of Manhattan in 1667!
This fascinating history book tells the story of Indonesia as a narrative of kings, traders, missionaries, soldiers and revolutionaries, featuring stormy sea crossings, fiery volcanoes, and the occasional tiger. It recounts the colorful visits of foreign travelers who have passed through these shores for many centuries—from Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and Dutch adventurers to English sea captains and American movie stars. For readers who want an entertaining introduction to Asia’s most fascinating country, this is delightful reading.
In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the Edge of Chaos
by Richard Lloyd Parry
In the last years of the twentieth century, foreign correspondent Richard Lloyd Parry found himself in the vast island nation of Indonesia, one of the most alluring, mysterious, and violent countries in the world. For thirty-two years, it had been paralyzed by the grip of the dictator and mystic General Suharto, but now the age of Suharto was coming to an end. Would freedom prevail, or was the “time of madness” predicted centuries before now at hand? A book of hair-raising immediacy and a riveting account of a voyage into the abyss, In the Time of Madness is an accomplishment in the great tradition of Conrad, Orwell, and Ryszard Kapuscinski.
Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear
by Andre Vltchek
Indonesia: Archipelago of Fear is a fascinating and at times unsettling journey into the world’s most populous Muslim nation as it struggles to emerge from decades of dictatorship and the plunder of its natural resources.
Andre Vltchek brings together more than a decade of investigative journalism in and around Indonesia to chart the recent history of the country, from the revolution which overthrew General Suharto’s genocidal dictatorship in 1998 to the present day. He covers the full breadth of the country from Islamic Aceh to mostly Catholic East Timor.
Tracing Indonesia’s current problems back to Suharto’s coup and the genocide of 1965 – and the support given by the West to Suharto – Vltchek provides an intimate and deeply humane insight into the hopes and fears of Indonesia’s people.
Ring of Fire: An Indonesia Odyssey
by Lawrence Blair
Based on the Emmy award-winning documentary series of the same name, Ring of Fire is a first-person account of the adventures of two English brothers as they explore the astonishingly rich cultures of the Indonesian islands. nduring record of a vanishing world.
The Food of Indonesia: Delicious Recipes from Bali, Java and the Spice Islands
by Heinz Von Holzen & Lother Ariana
Authentic Recipes from Indonesia includes 79 easy-to-follow recipes with detailed descriptions of ingredients and cooking methods, enabling the reader to reproduce the flavors of authentic Indonesian food at home.
The fabled Spice Islands of Indonesia encompass the most astonishing physical and cultural diversity in Asia. Authentic Recipes from Indonesia introduces a sampling of the most popular Indonesian food from across the archipelago. Included in this unique collection are spicy Padang favorites from West Sumatra, healthy Javanese vegetable creations, succulent satay and poultry dishes from Bali and Lombok, and unusual recipes from Kalimantan and the eastern isles of Flores and Timor. In addition to the range of exciting recipes, this book acquaints readers with Indonesia’s varied cultural and culinary traditions.
The Indonesia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
by Tineke Hellwig & Eric Tagliacozzo
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, encompassing nearly eighteen thousand islands. The fourth-most populous nation in the world, it has a larger Muslim population than any other. The Indonesia Reader is a unique introduction to this extraordinary country. Assembled for the traveler, student, and expert alike, the Reader includes more than 150 selections: journalists’ articles, explorers’ chronicles, photographs, poetry, stories, cartoons, drawings, letters, speeches, and more. Many pieces are by Indonesians; some are translated into English for the first time. All have introductions by the volume’s editors. Well-known figures such as Indonesia’s acclaimed novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer and the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz are featured alongside other artists and scholars, as well as politicians, revolutionaries, colonists, scientists, and activists.
Organized chronologically, the volume addresses early Indonesian civilizations; contact with traders from India, China, and the Arab Middle East; and the European colonization of Indonesia, which culminated in centuries of Dutch rule. Selections offer insight into Japan’s occupation (1942–45), the establishment of an independent Indonesia, and the post-independence era, from Sukarno’s presidency (1945–67), through Suharto’s dictatorial regime (1967–98), to the present Reformasi period. Themes of resistance and activism recur: in a book excerpt decrying the exploitation of Java’s natural wealth by the Dutch; in the writing of Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879–1904), a Javanese princess considered the icon of Indonesian feminism; in a 1978 statement from East Timor objecting to annexation by Indonesia; and in an essay by the founder of Indonesia’s first gay activist group. From fifth-century Sanskrit inscriptions in stone to selections related to the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2004 tsunami, The Indonesia Reader conveys the long history and the cultural, ethnic, and ecological diversity of this far-flung archipelago nation.
Batavia’s Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History’s Bloodiest Mutiny
by Mike Dash
In 1628 the Dutch East India Company loaded the Batavia, the flagship of its fleet, with a king’s ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java; the ship itself was a tangible symbol of the world’s richest and most powerful monopoly.
The company also sent along a new employee to guard its treasure. He was Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a disgraced and bankrupt man with great charisma and dangerously heretical ideas. With the help of a few disgruntled sailors, he hatched a plot to seize the ship and her riches. The mutiny might have succeeded, but in the dark morning hours of June 3, 1629, the Batavia smashed through a coral reef and ran aground on a small chain of islands near Australia. The captain and skipper escaped the wreck, and in a tiny lifeboat they set sail for Java—some 1,500 miles north—to summon help. More than 250 frightened survivors waded ashore, thankful to be alive. Unfortunately, Jeronimus and the mutineers had survived too, and the nightmare was only beginning.
Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia
by S. Ann Dunham
President Barack Obama’s mother, S. Ann Dunham, was an economic anthropologist and rural development consultant who worked in several countries including Indonesia. Dunham received her doctorate in 1992. She died in 1995, at the age of 52, before having the opportunity to revise her dissertation for publication, as she had planned. Dunham’s dissertation adviser Alice G. Dewey and her fellow graduate student Nancy I. Cooper undertook the revisions at the request of Dunham’s daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng. The result is Surviving against the Odds, a book based on Dunham’s research over a period of fourteen years among the rural metalworkers of Java, the island home to nearly half Indonesia’s population. Surviving against the Odds reflects Dunham’s commitment to helping small-scale village industries survive; her pragmatic, non-ideological approach to research and problem solving; and her impressive command of history, economic data, and development policy. Along with photographs of Dunham, the book includes many pictures taken by her in Indonesia.
After Dunham married Lolo Soetoro in 1967, she and her six-year-old son, Barack Obama, moved from Hawai‘i to Soetoro’s home in Jakarta, where Maya Soetoro was born three years later. Barack returned to Hawai‘i to attend school in 1971. Dedicated to Dunham’s mother Madelyn, her adviser Alice, and “Barack and Maya, who seldom complained when their mother was in the field,” Surviving against the Odds centers on the metalworking industries in the Javanese village of Kajar. Focusing attention on the small rural industries overlooked by many scholars, Dunham argued that wet-rice cultivation was not the only viable economic activity in rural Southeast Asia.
Surviving against the Odds includes a preface by the editors, Alice G. Dewey and Nancy I. Cooper, and a foreword by her daughter Maya Soetoro-Ng, each of which discusses Dunham and her career. In his afterword, the anthropologist and Indonesianist Robert W. Hefner explores the content of Surviving against the Odds, its relation to anthropology when it was researched and written, and its continuing relevance today.
Gifts of Unknown Things: A True Story of Nature, Healing, and Initiation from Indonesia’s Dancing Island
by Lyall Watson
Discover the extraordinary island of Nus Tarian, in Indonesia, where everyday reality contains terrifying, inexplicable, and miraculous phenomena. Magical feats, extrasensory perception, and psychic healing are commonplace in this land where the natural and the supernatural coexist and challenge our beliefs about reality.
At once a scientific exploration and an imaginative adventure, Dr. Watson’s astonishing and life-transforming journey becomes our own, challenging many of our fixed beliefs about the “real world.”
The Year of Living Dangerously
by Christopher J. Koch
Intriguing thriller set in one of Indonesia’s most turbulent times follows the basic plot of most of that country’s shadow puppet fables. Viz: The earthly balance of good and evil has lapsed, and the clueless but good-hearted hero finds himself aided by the unexpected attentions of a bold dwarf.
There is so much going on, it’s to be enjoyed on several levels. Innocence lost, cloak and daggery, true political intrigue, guy meets girl, expatriate sleaze, lessons in Indonesian culture: it’s all there. Very nicely written with a perfect pace and memorable characters; Koch seems to be a great observer and decent researcher.
So nicely composed was this book, the subsequent film (featuring breathtakingly fresh performances by youngsters Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson) captured the best dialogue and the steamy atmosphere with apparent ease. Destined to be a classic, YLD is a story that takes hold and stays with you a long time.
De rigeur reading for the expats of Indonesia, but also a great book to have along if traveling in Indonesia (the twenty year ban on this book has been lifted by the government, so you can bring it in legally now)! – Renee Thorpe
Silenced Voices: Uncovering a Family’s Colonial History in Indonesia
by Inez Hollander
Like a number of Netherlanders in the post World War II era, Inez Hollander only gradually became aware that her family had significant connections with its Dutch colonial past, including an Indonesian great-grandmother. For the most part such personal stories have been, if not entirely silenced, at least only whispered about in Holland, where society has remained uncomfortable with many aspects of its imperial rule.
Unlike the majority of memoirs that are soaked in nostalgia for tempo dulu, Hollander’s sets out to come to grips with her family’s past by weaving together personal records with more general, academic views of the period. She seeks not merely to locate and preserve family memories, but also to test them against a more disinterested historical record. Hers is a complicated and sometimes painful personal journey of realization, unusually mindful of the ways in which past memories and present considerations can be intermingled when we seek to understand a difficult past. Silenced Voices is an important contribution to the literature on how Dutch society has dealt with its recent colonial history.
Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia
by John T. Sidel
In October 2002 a bomb blast in a Balinese nightclub killed more than two hundred people, many of them young Australian tourists. This event and subsequent attacks on foreign targets in Bali and Jakarta in 2003, 2004, and 2005 brought Indonesia into the global media spotlight as a site of Islamist terrorist violence. Yet the complexities of political and religious struggles in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, remain little known and poorly understood in the West.In Riots, Pogroms, Jihad, John T. Sidel situates these terrorist bombings and other “jihadist” activities in Indonesia against the backdrop of earlier episodes of religious violence in the country, including religious riots in provincial towns and cities in 1995-1997, the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, and interreligious pogroms in 1999-2001.
Sidel’s close account of these episodes of religious violence in Indonesia draws on a wide range of documentary, ethnographic, and journalistic materials. Sidel chronicles these episodes of violence and explains the overall pattern of change in religious violence over a ten-year period in terms of the broader discursive, political, and sociological contexts in which they unfolded.Successive shifts in the incidence of violence-its forms, locations, targets, perpetrators, mobilizational processes, and outcomes-correspond, Sidel suggests, to related shifts in the very structures of religious authority and identity in Indonesia during this period. He interprets the most recent “jihadist” violence as a reflection of the post-1998 decline of Islam as a banner for unifying and mobilizing Muslims in Indonesian politics and society.
Sidel concludes this book by reflecting on the broader implications of the pattern observed in Indonesia both for understanding Islamic terrorism in particular and for analyzing religious violence in all its varieties.
Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity
by Robert Pringle
There are more Muslims in Indonesia than in any other country, but most people outside the region know little about the nation, much less about the practice of Islam among its diverse peoples or the religion’s influence on the politics of the republic.
In this illuminating publication, Robert Pringle explains the advent of Islam in Indonesia, its development, and especially its contemporary circumstances. The author’s incisive writing provides the necessary background and demystifies the spectrum of politically active Muslim groups in Indonesia today.
Darkness in Paradise: Memories of Onno VanDemmeltraadt from His Youth in Indonesia during WWII
by Gloria VaDemmeltraadt
Onno VanDemmeltraadt was born in the Dutch East Indies and was six years old when the Japanese occupation of World War II began. In Darkness in Paradise, author Gloria VanDemmeltraadt-Onno’s wife-tells her husband’s story from the unique view of a young boy in the midst of darkness in his paradise. In this memoir, Gloria has captured both the horrors and humor of her husband’s early life in war-ravaged Indonesia.
This recollection shares memories of fierce Japanese soldiers bursting into his family’s home, and later having one of them teach him to fish. Visions, such as Onno’s family running down the street with mattresses covering their heads as bullets fly by them, are stark. The stories tell the pains of war, but are filled with hope. Inspiring both tears and laughter throughout,
Darkness in Paradise reveals layers of human compassion during the awful times of World War II. Praise for Darkness in Paradise “What a wonderful first-person read. Onno has such a magnificent recall of facts I felt like I was there with him during many of his adventures. Told from a child’s point of view, it’s about a country affected by WWII, and the subsequent Japanese occupation of Indonesia.
You get a sense of the diverse cultures of Indonesia, both the native inhabitants as well as the mix of people from Holland who immigrated there. The many transitions of place, culture, and age are all brought to life” -Connie Anderson, Author, When Polio Came Home.
Art as Politics: Re-Crafting Identities, Tourism, and Power in Tana Toraja, Indonesia
by Kathleen M Adams
Art as Politics explores the intersection of art, identity politics, and tourism in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Based on long-term ethnographic research from the 1980s to the present, the book offers a nuanced portrayal of the Sa’dan Toraja, a predominantly Christian minority group in the world’s most populous Muslim country.
Celebrated in anthropological and tourism literatures for their spectacular traditional houses, sculpted effigies of the dead, and pageantry-filled funeral rituals, the Toraja have entered an era of accelerated engagment with the global economy marked by on-going struggles over identity, religion, and social relations.
A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the “Hobbits” of Flores, Indonesia
by Mike Norwood & Penny van Oosterzee
In the most revolutionary archaeological find of the new century, an international team of archaeologists led by Mike Morwood discovered a new, diminutive species of human on the remote Indonesian island of Flores. Nicknamed the “Hobbit,” this was no creation of Tolkien’s fantasy.
The three foot tall skeleton with a brain the size of a chimpanzee’s was a tool-using, fire-making, cooperatively hunting person who inhabited Flores alongside modern humans as recently as 13,000 years ago. This book is Morwood’s description of this monumental discovery and the intense study that has been undertaken to validate his view of its relationship to our species. He chronicles the bitter debates over Homo Floresiensis, the objections (some spiteful) of colleagues, the theft and damage of some of the specimens, and the endless battle against government and academic bureaucracies that hindered his research.
This updated paperback edition contains an epilogue that reports on the most recent debates, findings, and analyses of this amazing discovery.
Revolt in Paradise: One Woman’s Fight for Freedom in Indonesia
by K’Tut Tantri
Revolt in Paradise is a classic and it is good to see it in print again after a long absence. It is rather hard to classify this book: maybe autobiography, perhaps historical novel, possibly adventure story. On the face of it, it purports to be autobiographical: the story of a British-born American woman’s fifteen years in Indonesia in the 1930s and 1940s. Doubt has been cast on its accuracy and indeed the author begins the book by saying, `It is always difficult to be completely honest about oneself’. This does not matter. It’s a great story.
The story is divided into three parts. The first part tells of her time in Bali. In 1932 in Hollywood she saw the film Bali,The Last Paradise and shortly after set sail from New York on a cargo ship. She was an artist and made for Bali immediately after arriving in Java…
The second section of the book recounts her time in Japanese occupied Java. The Dutch quickly surrendered. She was able to negotiate travel passes with the Japanese and helped the underground resistance movement against the Japanese. She narrates stories of arms smuggling and tales of derring-do. K’tut Tanti always plays a starring role. Finally she was caught and imprisoned for more than two years until almost the end of the war. She was tortured and the descriptions are quite harrowing.
The third and final section of the book describes the long independence struggle and her part in it. After the war the Dutch wanted to come back to Indonesia as overlords. The English helped them and bombed Surabaya, which was unarmed and did not have air-raid shelters, for three consecutive days. The blood of hundreds was shed. Women and children died. It was a turning point for K’tut Tantri and she determined to help the Indonesians again. She broadcast twice nightly in English from secret radio stations run by the guerillas. By this means she brought the struggle to the attention of the World and became known herself as Surabaya Sue. She also helped spread the word in an English language magazine called The Voice of Free Indonesia. She met and wrote a speech for President Sukarno. There were more cloak and dagger escapades until she went to Australia and toured the main cities publicizing Indonesia’s case for freedom. Finally six years after the War ended World opinion forced the Dutch to grant Indonesia her independence. – Murni, Ubud Bali.
50 Years of Silence: Comfort Women of Indonesia
by Jan Ruff-O’Herne
The long idyllic summer of Jan Ruff-O’Herne’s childhood in Dutch colonial Indonesia ended in 1942 with the Japanese invasion of Java. She was interned in Ambarawa Prison Camp, along with her mother and two younger sisters.
In February 1944, when Jan was 21, her life was torn apart. Along with nine other young women, all of them virgins, she was plucked from the camp and her family, and enslaved into prostitution by the Japanese Imperial Army.
The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish
by Emily Voigt
A riveting journey into the bizarre world of the Asian arowana or “dragon fish”—the world’s most expensive aquarium fish—reveals a surprising history with profound implications for the future of wild animals and human beings alike.
A young man is murdered for his prized pet fish. An Asian tycoon buys a single specimen for $150,000. Meanwhile, a pet detective chases smugglers through the streets of New York. Delving into an outlandish realm of obsession, paranoia, and criminality, The Dragon Behind the Glass tells the story of a fish like none other: a powerful predator dating to the age of the dinosaurs. Treasured as a status symbol believed to bring good luck, the Asian arowana is bred on high-security farms in Southeast Asia and sold by the hundreds of thousands each year. In the United States, however, it’s protected by the Endangered Species Act and illegal to bring into the country—though it remains the object of a thriving black market. From the South Bronx to Singapore, journalist Emily Voigt follows the trail of the fish, ultimately embarking on a years-long quest to find the arowana in the wild, venturing deep into some of the last remaining tropical wildernesses on earth.
With a captivating blend of personal reporting, history, and science, The Dragon Behind the Glass traces our modern fascination with aquarium fish back to the era of exploration when intrepid naturalists stood on the cutting edge of modern science, discovering new and wondrous species in jungles all over the world. In an age when freshwater fish now comprise one of the most rapidly vanishing groups of animals on the planet, Voigt unearths a paradoxical truth behind the dragon fish’s rise to fame—one that calls into question how we protect the world’s rarest species. An elegant exploration of the human conquest of nature, The Dragon Behind the Glass revels in the sheer wonder of life’s diversity and lays bare our deepest desire—to hold onto what is wild.
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
by Simon Winchester
Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogotá and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar.
The sound of the island’s destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all — in view of today’s new political climate — the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
I is for Indonesia
by Elizabeth Rush & EddiE haRA
Not even purple polka-dot pajamas are enough to keep Bruno the bat from boredom—but a magical journey to Indonesia with Agus the octopus does the trick. From Krakatoa’s volcanic heights to the top of Borobudur, a 1300-year-old temple, from blue-feathered cassowaries to Buta Kala monsters, from the sweetness of gamelan music to the cacophony of Jakarta’s traffic jams, Bruno regains his sense of wonder. And when he returns home to Florida, he still carries that with him, making familiar surroundings as exotic as Indonesia. (This may be the only children’s picture book that ends with a quote from T.S. Eliot—soon to be quoted on playgrounds across the country—plus it’s bilingual.)
All About Indonesia: Stories, Songs and Crafts for Kids
by Linda Hibbs
All About Indonesia is a book for children that takes them on an adventure through one of the world’s largest and most culturally diverse countries.
Along the way, kids are introduced to Indonesian culture and history, the food, the language, and the natural beauty of this fascinating country! From popular sports to traditional dances, and from everyday dress to foods and school activities, this multicultural children’s book provides glimpses of the everyday life and culture of this exotic, faraway land.
Kids will learn about Indonesia through stories, songs, crafts, activities and recipes:
- Learn basic vocabulary from the national language, Bahasa Indonesia
- Make a traditional mask that is worn during special ceremonial dances
- Create beautiful batik cloths and other crafts for kids
- Experience the difference between big city life in Jakarta versus village living
- Explore the beaches and volcanoes in places such as Bali and Sumatra
- Enjoy sweet cake made with coconut, and more!
Kraken-ka the Komodo Dragon: A Tale of Indonesia
by Jodi Parry Belknap & Tamara Montgomery
An original story and cautionary tale about the first Komodo Dragon on earth. Born with beautiful colors, patterns, shapes and a crown, portrayed in a style inspired by the age-old Indonesian shadow puppet tradition of Wayang Kulit, Kraken-ka is transformed into his present day form after his creator, Naga, the Goddess of Wisdom and Beauty, gives him three chances to learn to take from the earth only what he needs.
An accompanying Performing Arts CD contains puppets patterns, a script, and poster for children to create their own show about the story, plus parent/teacher educational materials that meet national education standards in mathematics, art and social studies.
Indonesia Full Documentary | Ghosts of Sulawesi
In this documentary we travel to Indonesia, the Sulawesi island, there we know the Toraja and Bajau, two ethnic groups who have a very particular culture and traditions. There, we attended a Toraja funeral, an event that they have become an amazing ritual of several days. We dive into the wonderful world that lies behind the coral reef that runs through large part of the Indonesian archipelago. And finally we boarded on the Bajau houseboats who live in even closer contact with the sea. In fact, they could not conceive of life without it.
Inside Indonesia’s Drug War – 101 East
Once only a transit point for drugs, Indonesia has become one of the key narcotics markets in the region.
The country has some of the strictest narcotics laws in the world, including capital punishment for drug traffickers.
The government argues that tough laws are needed because it claims that four million Indonesians are drug users and more than 30 addicts die from an overdose every day. But critics say the country is failing to address the issue.
Users and dealers are subject to the same harsh penalties – filling an overcrowded corrupt prison system that is also awash with drugs.
Now, the country wants to rehabilitate 100,000 addicts a year using forced therapy, but can it work?
101 East investigates Indonesia’s war on drugs.
Krakatoa Volcano in indonesia Documentary
History Channel documentary about the eruption of Krakatoa.
Documentary : The Indonesia Genocide in East Timor
About the Indonesian invasion in 1975 and the genocide that followed.
Back to Linggajati (English version) – documentary about Dutch history in Indonesia
English subtitled version.
Borodubur – National Geographic – World Heritage Special
Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The temple is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. It is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world.
VICE on HBO Season One: Addiction (Episode 7) Indonesian Tobacco Use
The dangers of smoking are no secret in the U.S., but in Indonesia, the tobacco industry is virtually unregulated. The result? Over two-thirds of all men are smokers, and it is commonplace for children as young as six to take up the habit. Tobacco is a $100 billion industry here, with TV and print ads everywhere. Investigating this phenomenon in Malang, VICE visits a clinic that promises cures to a plethora of modern ailments through tobacco and smoking — with our intrepid correspondent getting the full smoke-therapy treatment.
Indonesia’s Transgenders Under Threat From Muslim Extremism
High Heels and Hijabs: How Indonesia’s long culture and tradition of Transgender communities is coming under threat from Muslim fundamentalists
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and at the same time it has a vibrant transgender culture and tradition, known as waria. This report looks at the community its fight for equal rights.
National Geographic – Wild World: Borneo
Borneo is the world’s third largest island. Shrouded in mist, this tropical island teems with strange and exotic life. In this vast jungle, snakes fall from the sky and lizards fly to survive. Some of the rarest, strangest and most magnificent creatures on earth call this place home. Pygmy elephants and the Sumatran rhino move quietly through the undergrowth while birds, bugs and bats inhabit some of the most spectacular cave formations on the planet. Borneo, an Island in the clouds.
Indonesia: Muddy Justice – People & Power- Al Jazeera
Indonesian gas company Lapindo Brantas is owned by the family of Abudurizal Bakrie, one of the richest men in Indonesia and the country’s minister for Social Welfare.
Victims accuse the gas company of having triggered the eruption of a mud volcano. But Bakrie’s company insist that the mudflow was caused by an earthquake and not the drilling.
Activists and lawyers who are seeking compensation for 40,000 victims of the eruption are claiming that the Indonesian government and courts are avoiding a real investigation of the causes because of Bakrie’s political and economic clout.
Indonesia. Bajau (Sea Gypsies Tribe) | Tribes & Ethnic Groups
In this documentary we travel to Indonesia, the Sulawesi island, there we know the Toraja and Bajau, two ethnic groups who have a very particular culture and traditions. There, we attended a Toraja funeral, an event that they have become an amazing ritual of several days. We dive into the wonderful world that lies behind the coral reef that runs through large part of the Indonesian archipelago. And finally we boarded on the Bajau (sea gypsies) houseboats who live in even closer contact with the sea. In fact, they could not conceive of life without it.
TABAYYUN: Hazardous Child Labor on Indonesian Tobacco Farms Documentary
An expose of child labor in the tobacco industry in Indonesia.
The World’s Dirtiest River
Embedding disabled, click here to view this film. It’s worth the watch.
The world affairs series returns for a new run, starting in Indonesia, home to the planet’s most polluted river and a textile industry supplying some of the world’s biggest fashion brands
Wild Indonesia Land Of Dragons National Geographic
This video tells the wildlife at the center of the Indonesian archipelago (wallecea) and a bit of western and eastern regions
Indonesia The Worlds Largest Muslim populated Country(part 1 of 2)
Indonesia The Worlds Largest Muslim populated Country(part 2 of 2)
Documentary on the Devastating 2004 Tsunami
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea mega-thrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on December 26, 2004, with an epicenter off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. The resulting tsunami is given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, and Boxing Day Tsunami.
The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high.
It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest hit, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.
With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes.
It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Its hypo-center was between Simeulue and mainland Indonesia.
The plight of the many affected people and countries prompted a worldwide humanitarian response. In all, the worldwide community donated more than $14 billion (2004 U.S. dollars) in humanitarian aid.
The All-Out Religious War That Took Place on an Indonesian Island
It’s no wonder inhabitants are risking their lives to leave a place where there is so much death. Rare video captures a mob wielding machetes and fire-bombing houses. “I took out my sword and took off four heads,” says one gang member. 50,000 Muslims gather at the dock to escape, clambering up makeshift ropes onto an overcrowded ship. Christians soon arrive on another boat, refugees from a different island. They are chased back to their ship. The army is all that stands between the factions. Many accuse local criminals of exploiting religious tension to gain power in the vacuum left by Suharto. The migration policies that forced the archipelago together are now falling apart, and the islands are left hanging together by a fine political thread.
Years of Living Dangerously : Indonesia Haze and Deforestation (Harrison Ford)
Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia in 2013 to investigate how the world’s appetite for palm oil – an ingredient in everything from candy bars to laundry detergent – has led to massive deforestation and turned Indonesia into one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Our World Coffee’s Cruel Secret – Kopi Luwak – civet cats – Indonesia
It’s marketed as one of the world’s rarest and most expensive coffees and sold at exorbitant prices in well-known luxury stores and coffee chains purely because of the story behind its production. Consumers are told that this designer beverage, Kopi Luwak, comes from civet cats which wander in the wild, eat the finest coffee berries and excrete the beans intact. Their droppings are then hand collected by locals. For Our World, Chris Rogers goes undercover in Indonesia and finds the marketing often doesn’t match the reality. Instead he discovers a grim scene of civets being intensively farmed in cruel conditions, with their ‘product’ misleadingly sold to coffee drinkers around the world.
Urban Poverty: Kampung Karet Tengsin
Aji and Dito are two children who live near the village of Karet Tengsin in central Jakarta, Indonesia. I followed them in this documentary to see first-hand the issues the urban poor of Jakarta face. Along the way, I asked the perspectives of various experts such as Veronica Colondam, founder of Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa, Vivi Alatas, a senior economist in World Bank Indonesia, Mr. Febraldi, a civil servant in the Directorate of Children at the Ministry of Social Affairs of Indonesia, and Mr. Rukdi, the headmaster of SDN 01 Karet Tengsin, the school near the village.
Sulphur Mining – Indonesia
A disturbing report on the terrible working conditions and appauling pay in Indonesia’s mining industry.
Forgotten Bird of Paradise (full version) – undercover West Papua documentary
Full version of the multi-award winning undercover documentary, ‘Forgotten Bird of Paradise’, on West Papua’s independence struggle.
Sumatra Burning: The heart of palm oil
In Coconuts TV’s feature documentary SUMATRA BURNING, we travel to Palembang, Indonesia to investigate rainforest clearance fires for palm oil plantations that cause environmental, economic, political, and health problems throughout Southeast Asia.
Illegal Fishing in Indonesia (Trailer) – Inside: Fish War – National Geographic Channel
This powerful documentary takes a hard look at the fishing industry affecting the coral triangle in South East Asia. It reveals the scale and source of the problem and follows the dedicated people determined to save the last oceanic eden in the world.
Jakarta’s street musicians star in award-winning documentary
They’re unlikely heroes starring in a film showing their lives on the streets of Jakarta. The documentary ‘Jalanan’ follows three street buskers showing a life many don’t know about. The film that won the best documentary award at the largest Asian film festival in South Korea is making an appearance in Indonesian cinemas where documentaries are hardly shown. This is a special, extended version of Jakarta correspondent Step Vaessen’s report airing on Al Jazeera English on Thursday 17 April.
The Act of Killing Official Trailer
A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.
The Look of Silence
THE LOOK OF SILENCE is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated THE ACT OF KILLING. Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.
Greenpeace Blockades IOI Palm Oil Refinery in Rotterdam Port – The Guardian
The Indonesian Waste Pickers Trading Trash for Healthcare – The Guardian
Indonesian State ‘Responsible for Genocide’ in 1965 – Al Jazeera
Indonesia’s Top Court Weighs Ban on Sex Outside Marriage – The Washington Post
Abortion Today – Still Secret, But Easy to Find – Jakarta Post
Heart-Breaking Photos Show What it’s Like Living in Insane Asylums in Indonesia – The Washington Post
Back-to-the-Land Spiritual Movement in Indonesia Sparks Government Crackdown – The Washington Post
Indonesian Women’s Rights Under Siege – Al Jazeera
A Woman’s Place – Inside Indonesia
Indonesia’s ‘Orgasm Lady’ Uses Sexual Empowerment to Champion Women’s Rights – The Sydney Morning Herald
Child Protection a Low Priority in Indonesia – IRIN News
Batik is the traditional fabric of Indonesia. It’s made with a process of wax printing and then dying the fabric. Investigate the history and artistry of batik. Try to visit a batik house and observe the process. Note the differences between the mass market produced batik and the artisan quality, handmade version. If you can, try your hand at creating a batik yourself.
Shadow puppet theater has a long tradition in Indonesia. Stories and folk tales are still told through shadow puppets. Study the history of both the puppet theater and the stories that are told as well as the artistry that goes into creating and manipulating the puppets. Attend a shadow puppet production. Create a puppet in the traditional style.
Indonesia has the greatest population of Muslim people of any country on the planet. People often think of Islam as a middle eastern religion, not realizing that the biggest Muslim country is actually Indonesia. However Islam is far from the only religion in Indonesia.
Examine the history of Islam in Indonesia. When, and how did it arrive? How did it become the major religion of the islands? Are there places in Indonesia where is is not the majority religion? There have been some notable conflicts between Islamic and Christian people groups on some of the islands. Study those. What happened? What was the result? How does the government balance the beliefs of various religious groups?
Bali, one of the principle tourist destinations in Indonesia, is primarily Hindu. How did this come to happen in the largest Muslim country in the world. Where did the Hindu influence come from? How does this make Bali culturally different from the other islands? Do the Hindu people coexist with the Muslims on the island?
Tana Toraja is a very unique area in central Sulawesi (the big K shaped island in the middle of Indonesia). The belief system is unique. Particularly their rituals around death and rebirth into the world beyond is fascinating. Visit Tana Toraja if you can. Tour the region and visit the caves full of human bones, the cliff caves, and the baby tree. Witness a funeral if you can and participate as fully as you are invited to.
What do you think of the rituals and beliefs of this people group? Examine your own beliefs about life and death; compare and contrast with as little judgement as possible. What do you learn about the Torajan way of seeing the world? Is there anything new that you recognize about your traditional cultural beliefs?
Orang Utan & Other Rare Plants & Animals
Malaysia and Indonesia split the island of Borneo, which is home to a number of interesting and endangered animals, including the Orang Utan, proboscis monkeys, pitcher plants, pygmy rhinos and elephants, among others.
If you can visit Borneo, don’t miss it. Spend some time at the ecological preserves and the rescue centers for wildlife. Do some research on the species that are unique to this island and the diversity of plant and animal life. What efforts are underway to conserve them? Are there success stories to tell? Which animals and plants are still endangered and what are the risk factors for these species?
Profiles of …..
Conduct a series of at least five interviews within a country. The point of the exercise would be to get a well rounded view of what it is like to live in the France from a variety of ages, incomes, employments and experiences. This could be conducted as video, or as text. Do an in depth analysis of the experience/information.
People you might profile:
- Restaurant owners/workers
- Clergy or Nuns
- Government officials
- Doctors or nurses
- Cafe owners
- Street vendors
- Artists or musicians
- Cab drivers
- Long term expats
With over 13,000 islands spread over two continents and as the fourth most populous nation on the planet, Indonesia is incredibly diverse. It’s impossible to paint “Indonesians” with one brush that encapsulates everyone.
Choose one or two of the people groups, based on your travels, and examine the unique history of those people and the places that they call home. Compare and contrast the diverse cultures within Indonesia. Try to come to grips with the broad range of people and lifestyles gathered within these islands.
Homo floresiensis: The Hobbit People
In 2003, on the island of Flores, archeologists uncovered a new species of homo; an early race of humans who stood barely three feet tall. There is on going research as to who these people were, how they arrived and adapted to life in what is now Indonesia.
Do some research on the early human races and specifically Homo floresiensis. Visit the museum of natural history in Jakarta and see Java Man. Investigate the prehistoric populations of the islands and what is being learned about them in recent years.
West Papua Province Conflict
If you watched the video listed above then you’re aware of the ongoing conflict between the Indonesian military and the indigenous population of West Papua, who are fighting for independence. The West Papuans believe they are entitled to independence because they were granted it. The Indonesians lay claim to the land and have built cities and rely upon the income from the mines, so they are unwilling to grant the call for independence.
If you are going to visit West Papua, make some observations about the conflict yourself based on your visit there. If you are not planning to visit, you could still do some research into the ongoing conflict. The above video is several years old. What is the current situation? How is the Indonesian government telling the story? What is the situation from the perspective of the indigenous West Papuans?
Are there any other open conflicts in which the Indonesian government is at odds with a particular minority people group in the islands?
Indonesia is world renowned for the coffee they produce (Java is named after the island of Java). There is, however, one type of coffee for which they are uniquely famous and infamous. Cafe Luwak is the most expensive cup of coffee in the world. What makes it unique is that it is fermented in the gut of a civet cat.
What’s a civet cat? How did cafe luwak get its start and become famous? How does the cat’s digestive process change the coffee? What is the controversy surrounding the coffee production? Are there ethical types? Where is this coffee produced (which islands)? Where is it marketed?
Palm oil production is a hot topic worldwide. It is an ingredient in many of the products we use every day and yet it’s production is highly controversial due to the impact on land and animal populations. Indonesia produces a large percentage of the world’s palm oil.
Visit a palm oil plantation if you can and ask some questions of the administration. Is palm oil being produced ethically anywhere in Indonesia? Are there plantations that are working to mitigate the impact on the natural environment? What are the working conditions like on palm oil plantations? What is the environmental impact of palm oil production? Are there ways that the average consumer can begin to apply pressure towards the improvement of the production process?
Pollution in Jakarta
The Ciliwung River, which flows through Jakarta, is the poster child for the high levels of pollution that plague the city. The river is littered with trash, stinks, and is fetid in some areas. And yet, people bathe in it, wash their clothes beneath bridges in it and rely on it daily.
Air pollution is a serious problem in the city as well. “Blue sky days” (when you can see the mountains) are rare and the vast majority of residents wear face masks to try to mitigate the risks of particulates in the air.
Smoking is rampant and allowed indoors in most public spaces, so even moving indoors does not guarantee respite from air pollution.
Sanitation is a serious issue, the streets are filthy in many areas and trash pile up is a concern.
As the capital of Indonesia and home to over 10 million people, the health risks as a result of pollution are significant, not to mention the environmental impacts. Take some time to examine the pollution situation in Jakarta, both through research and through first person documentation on the ground. What do you learn? Talk to people who live in Jakarta about what it’s like to live with the daily impact of pollution. What steps do they take to protect themselves? Are there government initiatives in process to try to clean up the air, water, and environment of the city? Tell a success story. Are there NGOs or local grassroots initiatives to educate people or take responsibility for a particular area of impact? Look for progress being made as well as for areas that still need work.
Indonesia has drawn some attention in recent years for the draconian approach taken towards women’s issues in some areas. Forced virginity tests at school and work for some women, and the government’s recent move to make sex outside of marriage illegal, abortion remaining illegal, are three examples. There is not equality for women in the job market or in wages and the cultural expectations of many communities constrain the choices offered to young girls.
Choose one aspect of the struggle women face for equality in Indonesia and dive deep into the issue. Do some interviews. Read all you can. Try to peel back the layers to find the root causes of the inequity. Are there organizations working to empower girls and women in this arena? If so, what are they doing? What’s working? Where is there still struggle?
Or, examine the daily life of two (or more) women: one from the city, and one from the countryside. One who works outside of the home, one who works at home. Compare the lives of two women of different religious or cultural backgrounds. What do these women have in common? What separates them?
Indonesia has a vibrant food culture, as one would expect from a country made up of so many different people groups and distinct island cultures. There are, however, some unifying tastes. Nasi goreng and Mi goreng are constants at every street food vendor’s stall. For about a dollar you’ll be handed a heaping plateful of the staple of Indonesian rice and noodle dishes.
Don’t stop there. The hawkers markets, teeming with foods and smells that are bound to be very different from what you’re used to at home beg to be sampled. Dive in and be brave! Try everything from dried water buffalo meat, to bananas as big as your arm, to rice and noodle dishes, to the steaming, savory soups that are ladled out of clay and metal pots all over the country. Keep a notebook and write down the best things (and maybe the worst things!) you try!
Make a record (or a video!) of all of the new foods you’re trying as you travel through Australia.
What is a meaningful interaction? You get to decide that. In general, it should be an interaction in which cultural exchange took place and you learned something. Often this will be with a local person; sometimes it will be with another traveler.
Sometimes these interactions look like very little on the outside but are totally life changing on the inside. Other times, they are rock your world amazing from every angle. It could be a meal shared, an afternoon’s excursion, a discussion that opens your eyes in some way, a self revelation that happened without any words exchanged at all.
Spend a day with a local individual or family. Document your experience in photos, interviews and the written word. The best way to interact with locals is to just start chatting with them at markets, on tours or on the street. You can also ask other travelers if they have met anyone who has offered some insight into life in the country. If you are a family who have children attending a local school then have a party, invite a parent to coffee, basically just open up your home to new relationships.
Take a Class
There are many options! Don’t be limited by this list:
- Art or Crafts
- Batik Painting
There are more museums than we can count dotted across the islands of Indonesia. Many of them referencing the particular history of the individual islands and people groups where they are found.
Since you’re likely to start in Jakarta, here are a few in the capital city to get you started:
Save your ticket stubs!
Volunteering is a great way to get to know a local community and give back a bit to the places that you choose to travel. There are lots of ways to do this, both organized and arranged privately, as well as impromptu opportunities that will pop up.
If you’re looking for a list of volunteer opportunities in Indonesia Free Volunteering has a site dedicated to helping you find one. Please be advised that TAP is not recommending these, only presenting them as a list of possibilities. Vet your volunteer options carefully.
Get out of the hostel, rent a place in a local village, or do a homestay. Through websites like Airbnb it’s easy to find places to live locally. Consider a co-living space to develop community with like minded travelers while diving a little deeper and going a little bit more local. Bali Coliving & Cowering, through Roam, is one option. CoWoLi and Coliving, have a range of options in Indonesia as well.
Photo essay or a blog description of why living local was different than living in a hostel. How did this experience change the economics of your stay? What did you learn about the way locals live? What challenged you? What would you do differently next time?
Through an organization like WWOOF, HelpX, or Workaway you can arrange for an opportunity to work in exchange for your room and board in a number of capacities, from farm labour to hospitality. Lots of students make use of these experiences to lower the cost of their travels, while at the same time learning valuable skills or “trying out” various career areas that interest them.
Request feedback in the form of a short evaluation that can be used later for a CV or reference
Public Transportation Project
Take as many types of public transportation as possible.
In Indonesia you’ll find everything from motorbike taxis, to tuk tuks, to boats and ferries, to local airlines and limited train service (on the island of Java). One of the best ways to learn as you go and interact with local people is to travel slowly and travel surface. Of course in Indonesia the temptation is to bop between islands by air (and sometimes this is the only way to go!) Often taking the slower boat (literally) will lead to some of the most interesting travel experiences and connections of your life.
*Note* Indonesia does have a reputation for unsafe ferries. Vet your ferry company carefully. Never board a boat that doesn’t have adequate life boats and PFDs available for all passengers. Use your good judgment and investigate the incident record of the companies you book with.
Challenge yourself to take every type of public transportation available while you are in Australia. Create a photo essay or videologue of your adventures. What did you learn?
Attend a Religious Observance
Indonesia has a wide range of religious practice, from being home to the largest Islamic population in the world, to the unique pockets of Hinduism and Christianity. Before the Europeans arrived, indigenous religions provided structure for life, there are pockets of people curating these old beliefs. Catalog the different religions and practices that you encounter as you travel through Indonesia. Take some time to attend various religious observances and see what you can learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. How does the religious climate in Indonesia compare with what you grew up with?
Learn to ask for what you want. If you meet someone interesting, ask them to teach you. Ask them for an interview. Ask to shadow them for a day or a week. You’ll be surprised at how eager people are to share what they know and teach when someone shows actual interest. Learn to ask questions. Learn to take social risks by putting yourself out there as a learner.
You have an idea or an interest. Something surprises you on your journey and all of a sudden you have a burning desire to know more. Plan your attack:
- Narrow your field of study to a particular question or topic.
- Compile resources: Look for teachers. Who knows what you need to know? Or who can you interview to learn more? Are there books or videos on the topic you’re interested in?
- Quantify it. How will you demonstrate what you have learned? A research paper, a video project, a photo essay, through art or music, a blog post, a published piece, an interview series, a mini documentary or do you have some other idea?
Produce a quality piece of academic work that reflects your experiential learning. The whole key to quantifying outside the box learning is to translate it into something that reflects the value of what you learned and how it contributed to your overall educational process.
Perhaps this will be as simple as a traditional research paper, depending on the depth and length of your study this could be as short as three pages or as long as a dissertation. Maybe you’ll produce a video for YouTube, or something grander, like a mini-documentary. Perhaps you’ll do something concrete instead, an art, or community action project and you’ll tell the story through a photo essay, or a series of blog posts. The possibilities are limited only by the resources you have at hand. Get creative. Think outside the box and truly experience your education.
Do You Have Anything to Add to This Resource Page?
We’re actively seeking to grow these resources in an open-source spirit. Please email jenn(at)bootsnall(dot)com with your edits or submissions of new information or materials.