Religious Pluralism in Indonesia

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

Publication Date



Indonesia is one of the world’s great plural societies. Its population of 238 million
spans thousands of islands and hundreds of ethnic and religious groups, the local
lives of which have been shaped by regional and global dynamics. The archipelago
was integrated first by trade routes, mercantilism and colonialism, then through concerted efforts at post-Independence nation-building that employed the region’s lingua franca as a national language, and established a program of shared values (pancasila) to generate ‘unity in diversity’ (bhinneka tunggal ika). In many ways, the project of nationalism was highly successful in creating a shared sense of national identity. But Indonesia also experiences inter-group tensions, with areas and periods of heightened conflict, often involving religion.


This article was originally published in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology


© 2016 The Australian National University