Development and Urbanization
Co-Authors: Rita Padawangi - Senior Lecturer, Singapore University of Social Sciences
Excavated from the ancient literature of the 14th century Majapahit Kingdom in East Java, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) was appropriated by national politicians in the early independence period to legitimize the incorporation of thousands of islands and hundreds of ethnic groups, religions, and languages as one nation-state. With continuing concerns on tolerance and diversity in Indonesia, it is pertinent to examine how Bhinneka Tunggal Ika is practiced in reality. How does the slogan play a role in the social construction of neighborhoods in the city? How do everyday realities in a city neighborhood relate to, practice, perpetuate and appropriate the national slogan? Using a mixed-method approach of archival research and ethnography, our research in Kampung Peneleh, Surabaya reveals a multilayered contextualization of the slogan. Oral tradition and historical evidences led to the social construction of shared neighborhood identity in association with the local mosque and Islam, although different religions and ethnicities have also settled in this neighborhood at least since the colonial period. The upholding of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika in everyday interactions and official speeches of local leaders intersects with the oral and spatial dominance of the majority religion in the neighborhood, resulting in a mixture of domination, cohabitation and cooperation as manifestations of unity in diversity. Such dynamic demonstrates the existence of kampung – mixed neighborhoods in urban Indonesia – as a microcosm of the city and the nation, in which the hegemonic slogan translates into, and is perpetuated by, the everyday urban.