Expert Meeting on Sulawesi

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There is always a perception that what matters most for all the regions in Indonesia is, in some way or another, determined by the so-called “experts” in Jakarta. When we were designing the Phase II of the Knowledge-based Advocacy for Strengthening Democracy in Indonesia, we asked ourselves a question whether or not the program will turn out to be another expression of or merely an extension of such a “Jakarta-centrism”. Build on the experience with our previous program in Sumatra, we came to the conclusion that to better understand a region we have to directly ask the people from within the region and not the other way around. In other words, to design a program that entirely is focused on Sulawesi we have to dig deep knowledge from the “natives”. This was the main reason why we proposed an expert meeting on Sulawesi as one of our major activities. As stated in the proposal, the main objective of the meeting is to improve the quality of the Knowledge-based Advocacy for Strengthening Democracy in Indonesia, Phase II.

Through the meeting, we set forth an expectation that there would be an intellectual exchange among those who have been intellectually and socially involved in dealing with crucial issues in Sulawesi. Not only do we need to build a knowledge-based foundation for each and every activity we are going to implement in Sulawesi, through the meeting we also want to change the perception of “Jakarta-centrism” in our program agenda by involving more experts from universities and/or epistemic communities in Sulawesi to help us identifying crucial problems according to their own expertise on their respective areas. In so doing, we invited 8 (eight) experts from Sulawesi and only one expert from Java. Each of the provinces in Sulawesi was represented by one expert with the exception being that the province of South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi each represented with two experts. The fact that the number of “native-born” experts participating in the meeting was exceeding the targeted number stated in the proposal is an indication that the space and place have been given more for the local to speak out about themselves.

IMG_0298We are very pleased to report that the meeting ran without any significant obstacle, on May 5th-7th 2013, and the process of sharing knowledge among participants went in full of enthusiasm. All experts have written papers and individually and collectively they were making fine contribution to the enhancement of our understanding of the people, cultures, and the intricacies of local politics in Sulawesi in general and of the issues of citizenship and local politics in each of the province in Sulawesi. After the meeting we have, in some respect, gained experience and knowledge of how to prepare and to conduct our other major activities. Ideas developed during the meeting have become one of the primary foundations of our entire program in Sulawesi. At the end of the meeting all experts also suggested topics and locations for public hearing and media campaign, and they said that they will gladly support and contributing to our program in Sulawesi.

The meeting was convened in Bogor, West Java, on May 5th-7th 2013 and attended by approximately 15 participants, the nine of whom are the experts on Sulawesi. In the opening remark of meeting, the chairperson of the Interseksi Foundation briefly described the reasons why we organized the meeting and what objective we are going to achieve through the meeting, i.e., to build a better understanding on the current affairs in Sulawesi straight from the experts.

IMG_0302We aimed at a lower target: inviting only 6 (six) experts from Sulawesi to be paneled with three experts from the finest university in Java. But as we discussed the program with some of our colleagues from Sulawesi, they were enthusiastically proposing names and expertise to be the candidate of participants to the meeting. Not only did they come from reputable universities throughout the Sulawesi Island, but some of them have also been involved in social advocacy in their respective areas. We then decided that six are not enough and that we had to give more space to the “local voices” in the forum. To compensate for the increased number of the “native” experts, we have to reduce the number of experts from Java from 3 (three) to only one person.

On May 5 -7th, 2013 there were 9 (nine) experts on Sulawesi presenting papers portraying Sulawesi from many different dimensions. As shown on Table 1, the topics of the paper range from history, conflict, housing policies in urban areas, to democracy and citizenship. The participants (the experts) lively discussed a broad range of issues from a highly theoretical perspective down to very practical activities that could be done to address the issues.

All the papers are available online in our official website: http://interseksi.org.

Table 1. List of Experts Participating to the Expert Meeting on Sulawesi

Name Background Title of Paper
Prof. Dr. Juraid Abdul Latief, M. Hum Anthropologist, Tadulako State University, Palu “Sulawesi Tengah: Perspektif Sosiokultural, Demokrasi, dan Konflik”
Dr. Ruslan Rahman, M.Pd Anthropologist, Government administrator Southeast Sulawesi “Buranga vs Kulisusu Konflik Penempatan Ibu Kota Daerah Pemekaran”
Prof. Dr. Halilintar Lathief, MPd Anthropologist, State University of Makassar “Jejak-jejak Perkembangan Pemerintahan dan Politik di Sulawesi”
Prof. Ir. Bambang Heryanto, Msc., PhD Urban Study Program, Hassanudin University, Makassar “Komunitas Pintu Gerbang: Pengaruh Tipomorfologi Permukiman Terhadap Pola Spasial ”
Dr. Muhammad Basir, M.A. Anthropologist, Gorontalo “Pemetaan Isu-isu Kontemporer di Provinsi Gorontalo”
La Ode Rabbani Historian, the author of Kota-Kota Pantai di Sulawesi Tenggara, Airlangga University, Surabaya. “Dominasi Kuasa Sultan yang Tergadai, Sejarah Politik dan Sosial Sulawesi Tenggara Sebelum dan Sesudah Kemerdekaan”
Dr. M. Idham Khalid Bodi, MPd Sociologist, Researcher of the Department of Religious Affairs, South Sulawesi. “Menelisik Mandar Sulawesi Barat”
Recky H.E. Sendouw, PhD Lecturer, Deputi Vice Rector of Public Relation Manado State University “Demokrasi Pegadaian dan Pembajakan Birokrasi”
Prof. Dr. Heddy Shri Ahimsa-Putra, M.A. Senior Anthropologist, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta “Konteks Sosial-Budaya Demokrasi di Sulawesi Selatan”