Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (United in Diversity): Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Religion in Indonesian Higher Education

Logli, Chiara
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
My dissertation aims to bring further understanding on multicultural education outside the Anglo-American axel and with a new focus on ethnicity, religion, and province of origin as key identity-markers. Indonesia is my case-study, with over 375 ethnic groups, six officially recognized creeds (i.e., Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism), the greatest number of Muslims in the world, and the fourth highest population on the planet scattered across 6,000 inhabited islands. I examine the meaning and implications of the Indonesian national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) in the context of higher education. This study uncovers existing initiatives that foster Bhinneka Tunggal Ika in Indonesian universities, as well as suggests paths for improvement. My Grounded Theory methodology encompasses document analysis, observations, 633 survey responses, and 57 in-depth interviews with administrators, faculty members, and students at Universitas Gadjah Mada as well as other key informants. My theoretical framework draws from notions of nationalism and ethno-religious identity to illuminate the realm of unity and diversity. Theories of multiculturalism and grounded cosmopolitanism reveal the local, national, and global belongings that shape both individual and institutional hybrid identities in today’s globalized era. Multicultural education, religious education, intercultural contact theory, and notions of university as a public sphere contextualize the broader discourse on unity and diversity in higher education. Ultimately, I propose two arguments. First, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika frames multiculturalism as grounded cosmopolitanism. In particular, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, or grounded cosmopolitanism, means to hold grounded (e.g., ethnic, religious, national) and cosmopolitan (e.g., humanist and global) allegiances. In particular, participants refer to Bhinneka Tunggal Ika as a hybrid historical concept and a process of “identity blending.” Regardless of the specific shapes and proportions, grounded and cosmopolitan memberships are present and interacting in each person, group, and institution. Second, a “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika education,” or a grounded cosmopolitan education, means to support the agency to blend grounded and cosmopolitan allegiances within a hybrid identity. While the dominant discourse attempts to restrict hybridity, counter publics advocate further hybridization across governmental policy, university regulations, teaching and research, formal curriculum, and campus life.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Indonesia, higher education, diversity, ethnicity, religion, nationalism
Access Rights
Email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.