The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

A Study of the Incorporation of Modernization in Indonesia

Joint Research Coordinator KAGAMI Haruya

Reserch Theme List


This joint research aims to investigate and analyze sociocultural changes that have been occurring in Indonesia in recent years, from the perspective of the understanding modern principles and systems. Based on the most recent data collected during surveys by participants in this joint research in various regions in Indonesia, we seek to understand what kinds of situations arise when contemporary principles and systems are at variance with tradition at the local level in politics, economics, and culture. We will attempt to explicate how within this context people digest modernity. These responses to modernity will be examined not in terms of generalities but rather at the micro- local social level. We intend to look closer at changes to systems and behavior and the vacillations and realignments of principles and value systems. The significance of this joint research is in the detailed explication of the actual faces of the modernization process.

Research Results

Over two and a half years, the research committee convened 10 meetings. During the meetings we presented distinct examples based on individual research materials collected by members of this joint research committee or other specialists of areas which the team members could not cover. In so doing, we applied an interdisciplinary perspective in examining the advent of modern principles and mechanisms in Indonesia and the forms that have been accepted and modified in Indonesia. The fields of expertise of the participants included cultural anthropology, political science, ethnomusicology, economics, history and literature, and the historical time span they considered was the roughly 150 years from the end of the nineteenth century until the present.
The discussions which followed each of the presentations included the offering of comparative materials from different disciplines and suggestions that differed from those of the individual presenting the report. These discussions provided significant opportunities for debate that featured input from among experts who shared their dedication to the study of Indonesia but in different fields. One product of the project was “Local Society in Modern Indonesia” (August 2006, NTT Publishing Co., Ltd.), edited by two members of the committee (Takashi Sugishima and Kyoshi Nakamura). The publication consisted almost entirely of contributions by committee members. In addition, professional papers, one after another, are being published by participants.
Unfortunately, because of schedule issues we were unable to hold a final discussion. The question of the degree to which the modern has been digested and implemented is not something to be judged in terms of a transitory temporary time frame, but rather is an issue that needs to be considered by researchers who continue to research over a long period of time. The hope is to gather together a collection of the research papers that grew from the results obtained by the committee. We would like to continue to be conscious of these issues as we proceed in the future.