Sultans Rising: The Reinvention of Local Identity in Contemporary Indonesia

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Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 20154:00PM - 6:00PM108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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For the first 55 years of its existence, Indonesia’s leaders used a centralised bureaucracy to try to keep the country’s 13,000 islands together. But since military ruler Suharto stepped down in 1998, the world’s fourth most populous nation has undergone a riotous decentralisation. Author and researcher Elizabeth Pisani examines how local identities are being excavated, dusted off and sometimes simply invented to serve the needs of political elites in this new age of micro-democracy.

Elizabeth Pisani is an epidemiologist by training and a political scientist by inclination. Her most recent book, the acclaimed Indonesia Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation, weaves history, travelogue and political analysis into a portrait of a nation with which she has interacted for over 25 years. Elizabeth holds an MA in Classical Chinese from Oxford, an MSc in Medical Demography from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, also from LSHTM. She is a visiting Senior Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College, London, and director of the public health consultancy Ternyata Ltd.

Indonesia is not only the most populous Muslim country, 255 million, but also one of the most diverse, with more than 700 local languages and culturally distinct groups. Indonesia has a rich history that saw various religious traditions established among the local populations, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The University of Toronto boasts one of the strongest concentrations of specialists on Indonesia in Canada and North America, with five professors specializing on Indonesia in various departments. This lecture highlights the significance of this country and the strength of UofT as a centre for the study of Indonesia.


Rachel Ostep


Elizabeth Pisani
Visiting Senior Fellow, Policy Institute at King's College, London and director of the public health consultancy Ternyata Ltd.


Institute of Islamic Studies

Centre for Southeast Asian Studies


Asian Institute

Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies

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