A Nation in Dysfunction: Discourses on Corruption in Indonesia

A Nation in Dysfunction: Discourses on Corruption in Indonesia

The 16th Northeastern Conference (NEC) on Indonesia
April 21-22, 2017 – Yale University
Hosted by Yale Indonesia Forum (YIF) with Cornell Indonesian Association (CIA)


Indonesia’s government has been perpetually riddled by corruption and a lack of public accountability, thus, engendering political frustration and resentment amongst the populace. The literature contains a multitude of perspectives; some argue that corruption is caused by the following factors, among others: bureaucracy and institutional structures, social grievances, Indonesia’s young democracy, economic interests, legal systems and enforcement, grassroots power, and colonial legacy, as well as cultural and historical contingencies that act to make or break corrupt practices. As Indonesia continues to craft its democracy, the specter of corruption looms large. While the conversations on this issue can at times seem too divisive or confined within certain strands of thought, we invite speakers and attendees from all disciplines and areas to critically analyze, expand, synthesize, contest, and discuss their perspectives on corruption at 15th Northeastern Conference (NEC) on Indonesia. The organizing committee is seeking proposals that will critically engage with some of the following questions:

  1. How do we define or make sense of corruption? What is Indonesia’s corruption problem?  How does corruption manifest in society, in individuals, in practices, and in the systems of thought? What are some of the mechanisms of its practices and how has it been changing or renovating? What causes corruption in Indonesia? Does corruption spring from excessive power and unequal access to resources? Is it spurred by the youth of Indonesia’s democracy and bureaucratic tradition, or is it rooted in an ingrained aspect of culture that evolved as part of a colonial legacy?
  2. How is corruption currently regulated in Indonesia? Too what extent is the corruption scrutinized and asphyxiated by law enforcement? What are both the instruments and operational intricacies of legal systems in Indonesia? What are the cultural web(s) in Indonesian law reform regarding this? Has the Judiciary become an arm of the bureaucracy in this issue and what have been the consequences of this? What has been the continuous struggle? What about the need for interdisciplinary studies in designing legal reform or actions? What about the role of the ordinary police, prosecutors, and courts in ‘managing’ this?
  3. How are Indonesians grappling with this issue? Through what means of communication are they able to express thoughts about this struggle? What about the freedom of the press in educating the public, communicating, and speaking about these corruption issues, testimonies, or even critical analysis? What is available to respond to criminalization against activists on this issue?
  4. What are the significance of the various multilateral donors, lending aid agencies, anti-corruption institutions, and agencies in this issue? What are the trajectories of their performances? What can be changed, reworked, and reimagined in terms of their roles and practices?
  5. What are the consequences of corruption? Who has been affected? Are some groups more likely to bear the brunt, or do all sectors of society suffer? How might the discussion of corruption explain various struggles and challenges in various sectors of life and practices in Indonesia such as education, research development, environment, healthcare, and the welfare system? How about the connections of corruption to poverty? How might poverty invite corruption and on the other side, corruption deepen poverty?
  6. What have we missed in our discussions, scholarly works, and/or in our attempts to eradicate, approach, manage, resist, adjudicate, or advise on/about corruption?
  7. What are the challenges in conducting research on corruption and what new methodologies are available/can be developed through these challenges?

The program will begin on Friday, April 21, 2017 at Yale University with an interactive 2017 YIF Spring Dialogue that will feature scholars who have extensively researched and written on Indonesia, as well as practitioners who have engaged with, and developed expertise in corruption or anti-corruption practices in various regions of Indonesia. Attendees are encouraged to join the dialogue, which will be facilitated by a moderator. The discussion continues through the 16th Northeastern Conference on Indonesia on Saturday, April 22, 2017 with a keynote address and paper presentations.

Proposal Submission

Please submit your proposal as a .doc or .docx file only. The proposal is limited to 450 words. Please include in your proposal: 1) a description of your project; 2) research questions; 3) perspective(s) or theoretical framework; 4) methods; 5) substantiated conclusions/tentative key findings; and 6) the significance of the work. In addition to your proposal, please provide a short list of references (at the end of your proposal), situating your work within the literature. Please send your proposal to necatyale@gmail.com and provide your name (and co-presenters, if any), institutional affiliations, status (undergraduate or graduate and what year), title of the paper/presentation, email address, and phone number in the email body. Please contact the organizers at necatyale@gmail.com if you have any questions regarding the YIF Spring Dialogue and the Northeastern Conference. The participants are encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions. The conference committee will provide accommodation (1 night) for selected contributors.

Proposal Submission Deadline: March 24, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time
Notification of Acceptance (via email): March 27, 2017.