Locals participate in Independence Day festivities in Bali. Photo by Mo from Flickr.

Indonesians around the world will celebrate Independence Day in a range of ways on 17 August. Some will hold festivals in big cosmopolitan cities, serving Indonesian food to hungry diasporas, while Indonesian villagers will hold traditional celebrations with simple games and competitions, like tug of war and kerupuk eating. Many of these traditions have changed little since the New Order era. This leads us to ask, what should we think about independence in the context of Indonesia today? 

We see that 78 years after Soekarno proclaimed independence in 1945 – Indonesians are still asking the question “sudahkah kita merdeka?” – are we truly independent yet? The question is asked so often it has become a cliché, but now many academics and activists are engaging with the question more seriously through frameworks and theories of decoloniality.

In this week’s episode of Talking Indonesia, Tito Ambyo chats with Tamara Soukotta, who recently defended her PhD thesis at the International Institute of Social Studies at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In her thesis, she argues that to understand the Ambon conflicts that started in 1999, we need to view the conflict through a lens of decoloniality. Moreover, to be able to understand the processes of peacebuilding after the war, we also need to look at these events as decoloniality in praxis. In this episode, Tamara tells us about her research and shares her thoughts on celebrating Independence Day critically and decolonially – which is harder than it sounds. 

In 2023, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Tito Ambyo from RMIT, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Elisabeth Kramer from the University of New South Wales and Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.

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