ICIR 2022

The 4th (Hybrid) International Conference on Indigenous Religions and CSO Consolidation

“Inclusive Democracy: Equality and justice for all”

28-30 November 2022; Pontianak, West Kalimantan

How may democracy be meaningful to all citizens, and especially to vulnerable groups like indigenous people? For more than two decades, Indonesian democracy has been consolidated, largely owing to civil society movements that have succeeded in transforming Indonesia into democratic state. Yet the true meaning of democracy remains distant from many indigenous people and other vulnerable groups. Many scholars have argued that democracy in Indonesia, like in some other countries, has been declining over the last five years (Aspinall and Mietzner 2019; Diprose et al. 2019). They propose at least three indicators of this decline: shrinking civic space, political populism, and intolerance and sectarianism.

Democracy, in its ideal form, promises to be the most effective political system for inclusion. Its procedures give opportunities for all individuals and groups to be heard, understood, and considered in policymaking. It upholds human rights, and so guarantees protection for the excluded, the discriminated against, and the persecuted. Democratic states like Indonesia have passed regulations to guarantee human rights for all citizens. Yet indigenous people in Indonesia and beyond continue to fight for equal rights. They remain excluded from many political processes, mostly ignored in policymaking, and largely denied from socio-cultural participation. Their religions are culturalized and profaned, their traditions are primitivized, their knowledge and worldviews are irrationalized, their territories are occupied, their lands and forests are grabbed by corporations, and their citizenship status remains colonialized.

The current world – even in countries which claim to be democratic – is experiencing a multi-dimensional crisis. Political power is centred on the elites; economic power is controlled by oligarchs through the market; social power is dominated by majoritarian standards, largely biased against expressions of marginalised and vulnerable groups, including indigenous people; and ecological power is given to humans only. For corporations, the earth, who is the mother in many indigenous worldviews, is merely an instrument for the prosperity of humans, especially for the elites and the powerful. This multi-dimensional crisis is closely connected to institutionalized sources of exclusion and marginalization.

In response to these challenges, ICIR presents the 4th International Conference and CSO Consolidation, and again invites academics of various disciplines, researchers, CSO activists from Indonesia and beyond, community members, and anyone else interested to re-examine democracy in theory and practice. This 4th conference continues engagement with issues addressed in the 3rd conference (access to justice), the 2nd conference (centering the margins), and the 1stconference (inclusive citizenship). It calls for an inclusive democracy that can simultaneously address our institutionalized multi-dimensional crises (the political, economic, socio-cultural, and ecological). It seeks interdisciplinary approaches and perspectives to find ways of fostering political, economic, social, and ecological theories and movements for equality and justice for all.


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