The history of ethnic Chinese studies in Indonesia: Transition from the Soeharto regime to the Reformasi era

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Three dominant changes have occurred in the study of the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia after the fall of Soeharto. First, the study of Indonesian Chinese was freed from the threat of SARA censorship (Suku, Agama, Ras, dan Antar Golongan, or ethnic, religious, racial, and class relations), which was removed after Soeharto. Second, ethnic Chinese studies have accelerated. Many seminars and discussions are now held and many books about the ethnic Chinese have been published in Indonesia. Some aim to abolish inequalities and discriminatory measures and claim justice. Although changes have been made in the law, anti-Chinese hostility still exists in society. Other studies analyze the discourses of Dutch colonialism and Indonesian nationalism and reconsider the Chinese role in nation building, so as to rewrite Indonesian history, which has largely ignored the ethnic Chinese. Third, foreign researchers are shifting their attention from political issues, such as assimilation, national integration, and political identity to subjects reflecting the changing role of the ethnic Chinese in East and Southeast Asia in an era of globalization and rapid economic growth. In this paper I will focus on such changes by reviewing studies done during the New Order regime and the subsequent period of Reformasi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-418
Number of pages22
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Mar 1



  • Assimilation
  • Ethnic Chinese
  • Integration
  • Overseas Chinese

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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