Harajuku Culture

The History of Harajuku

The Main Strip of Harajuku

Harajuku as it is now traces its roots to the end of World War II during the Allied occupation of Japan. U.S. soldiers and government civilians and their families lived in a nearby housing area called Washington Heights. It became an area where curious young people flocked to experience a different culture and stores in the area stocked goods marketed towards middle and upper class Japanese and Americans. In 1958, Central Apartments were built in the area and were quickly occupied by fashion designers, models, and photographers. In 1964, when the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo the Harajuku area was further developed, and the idea of “Harajuku” slowly began to take a more concrete shape.
After the Olympics the young people who hung out in the area, frequently referred to as the Harajuku-zoku, or the Harajuku tribe, began to develop a distinct culture and style unique to different groups and the area. From this distinct style grew the culture of Harajuku as a gathering ground for youths. The term “Harajuku Girls” has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku. This fashion infuses multiple looks and styles to create a unique form of dress. The cyber-punk look takes its influence from Gothic fashion and incorporates neon and metallic colors.

Harajuku Fashion

Harajuku fashion is the name of a certain style of dressing that is popular in Japan. There are various sub-categories and distinctions within the umbrella of Harajuku fashion. Rather than being one defined form of fashion it has a broad scope with distinct styles. Among the many different Harajuku looks is the elegant Gothic Lolita which has long been popular in the country. On the flip side you have the ultra modern looking punk Visual Kei (VisKei) that has been inspired by the local music scene especially punk and rock.

Gothic Lolita

Visual Kei – Shocking, I know.

The fashion gets its name from the place of its origin which is Harajuku. The Harajuku station is one place where you will be able to see just how crazy the youth are over this trend. The station basically serves as a stage where teens from all over the place gather around to show off their costumes. It seems as though you are at a costume party with the youth trying on different disguises in order to mimic their favorite personality whether that is a rock musician, anime character of something gothic.

The Harajuku fashion epicenter in Japan is Tokyo. Over here you will find the youth to be dressed up in amazingly vibrant clothing. It is all a matter of experimentation for the youth who utilize their creative instincts to mix and match different kinds of clothing to come up with something outlandish. The bizarre outfits are often accompanied with colored hair and various other fashion accessories.

The Neon Hairstyle

(Levi Daifani)



The Rice Cake War, The War for Peace…

“There will be no world peace without a religious peace”(Hans Kungs). Thestatement seems completely right, since two thirds of the world population belongs to religion, and religion with its religious values is a strong influencer of the world actors both State and Non-State Actors.

If we talk about culture differences in Indonesia, in each region of Indonesia have at least 5 different religions.  Including in Lombok, in this region also the religion of the citizen are different such as Catholic, Christian, Islam, Hindu, and Buddhist. In this part will be discussed about the interaction between Muslims and Hindus in one of traditional event that held once a year in Lombok. The name of the event is “Perang Topat” (the rice cake war).

The rice cake war is takes place each year at the Pura Lingsar Temple in West Lombok. Celebrated by both Hindus and Muslims together. It is an event preceded by weeks of prayer and preparation, in which the people come together to give thanks for their crops, and offer up cakes, fruit, buffalo and rice. Once the main offering is made, the participants take part in a three-night war, using rice as their main weapon. This “war” is meant to be a celebration of the harmony and friendship that has developed between the two religions in Lombok.[1]

Every year, Lingsar village engages in the Perang Topat at the Lingsar temple complex. The temple was built in 1759, during the reign of King Anak Agung Gede Ngurah, a descendant of the kings of Karangasem, Bali, who once ruled this part of Lombok. The temple complex is located 9 kilometers east of the provincial capital Mataram, and is considered unique. It hosts the aforementioned Gaduh temple and Kemaliq building, and is used for rituals and traditional ceremonies, both Hindu and Muslim. The two buildings stand side by side, and in front of each is a jabe or courtyard. Because of its uniqueness, the Lingsar temple complex has since the 1990s been declared a cultural conservation site.

The village holds its Perang Topat on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Lombok Sasak calendar, or purnama sasih kepitu (the full moon of the seventh month); in the Balinese Hindu calendar, this corresponds to the 15th day of the sixth month, or purnama sasi kenem (the full moon of the sixth month). On this night, Hindus celebrate odalan, or the anniversary of the founding of Lingsar village, by holding their pujawali ceremony.[2]

Meanwhile, the Muslims commemorate the epic journey of Raden Mas Sumilir, a Muslim scholar from Demak, Central Java, who brought Islam to Lombok in the 15th century. Since midday, community members have gathered at the Lingsar temple complex. At Gaduh temple, the Hindus prepare banten, or offerings, for the prayers to pujawali. Over at the Kemaliq, the Muslims prepare kebon odek, offerings in the form of fruit and vegetables. Rather, this tradition, which has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years in Lingsar village in West Lombok regency, is re-enacted to strengthen harmony between Muslim and Hindu communities. Battles are usually synonymous with anger and violence, a physical clash between two parties in dispute. But the Perang Topat in Lombok, which involves hundreds of people from two different religions, is an event that gives no impression at all of being hideous or hateful.[3]


[1] retrieved from: http://www.mydestination.com/lombokandgilis/events/73207741/perang-topat-%28rice-cake-war%29-10-december-2013 (July 17, 2014).

[2] Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, West Lombok | Life | Fri, January 22 2010.

[3] Ibid

The 1960s Counterculture: Hippies Movement


In the beginning of 1960s, the counterculture movement emerged in San Fransisco, USA. This movement well known as hippies movement. The terms hippie refer to word “hipster” which means the unusual movement. This movement emerged as a protest by teenagers towards a conservative culture at that time. They started to reject the old culture which their parents held in a long time. They go out from home, create a commune, consumed LSD and marijuana and having sex. This movement upheld liberal value and they think that the conservative culture is no longer fit with the ages.  1960s counterculture produced much music, literature and popular art which related to their values. The characteristic of this movement was long hair, full color shirt, marijuana and live nomad. The hippies movement comes up with a very famous tagline “Make Love Not War” as a forms to protest every kind of war and violence. This movement well known as their protest against U.S foreign policy towards Vietnam war. ( David Jr. M)

A Lessons from Lombok for Indonesia

With its beaches, waterfall, and green volcano crater lake, Lombok is viewed by many peoples as the other world paradise beside Bali. Apart from those beautiful view in Lombok, there is millions of people live from various ethnic groups which display diverse cultures. As what mentioned above that 87 percent of Lombok population is Sasak Muslims (Lombok’s indigenous people). Balinese Hindus are the largest minority ethnic group estimated for about 7 percent. The rest are Sumbawanese, Bugis Javanese, and Chinese. But in this paper we are not going to discuss about all differences in Lombok but only the main ethno-religious groups, the Sasaknese Muslims and Balinese Hindus.

Conflict between Sasaknese Muslims and Balinese Hindus was began since the Balinese conquest almost 300 years ago. Before the Balinese conquest, Lombok was divided into four major regions, each of which was ruled by a Sasak king: Pagesangan, pagutan, Mataram,and Cakranegara. Disunity among the local kingdoms was manipulated by the neighboring Balinese ruler, Anak Agung Ngurah, of East Bali. The Hindu-Balinese kings eventually became the new rulers of Lombok in the late 17th century after defeating the divided Sasak kingdoms. They mainly controlled the West and parts of North and Central Lombok from 1740 to 1894. After Dutch colonial forces toppled them that year, nearly all the remaining Balinese chose to stay in Lombok rather than sail back to their native island.

The 17th-century territorial conquests were not the only time of Balinese migration to Lombok. The eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 drove Balinese refugees from the eastern side of the island to Lombok as a safe haven. Today, Balinese families have been in Lombok for more than five generations and are fluent both Sasak and Balinese languages. They have lived alongside the Sasak for more than 270 years.

The Lombok Balinese predominantly continue to practice Hunduism, while Islam, of course, is the dominant religion of the Sasak. Both groups devote themselves to distinct religious ideas and events held according to their own specific lunar calendars. The Balinese appear to have integrated peacefully with the Sasak despite a violent history between them, and this is affirmed through an annual religious festival at Pura Lingsar Temple named Perang Topat (the Rice Cake War), held to symbolize Hindu – Islam tolerance. Perang Topat literally means a fight marked by the throwing of topat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves) between fighters coming from different ethno-religious backgrounds: the Balinese and the Sasak. While Pura Lingsar, which is a half Hindu and a half Sasak Muslim Temple, becomes a shared sacred site during this yearly ceremony, with the Balinese and Sasak affirming their religious partnership by performing the ritual together.

This depicts that “Reconciliation and harmony between Balinese Hindus and indigenous Sasak Muslims on Lombok following a history of conflict comes down to one basic thing: throwing rice cake” is actually a very great example of pluralism as what Indonesia needs. The Lombok’s reconciliation and harmony is supposed to be considered by other regions in Indonesia in order to stitching a new and better Indonesia. Lombok is already evident that Bhineka Tunggal Ika is completely works in the real life. It is not just a motto. But the question is why other regions still so violent, in particular against religious minorities? [MSS]


source: Susetyo, Benny.(2012). Stitching Together A New Indonesia. Retrieved from Strategic Review: Indonesia’s search for Pluralism (ed. January-March 2013 vol.1).


Material & Symbolic Aspect of Conflict

in the case of The Southern Thailand Conflict or well known as ‘Unrest in Southern Thailand’, just for brief background, that the former Sultanate of Pattani was conquered by the Thais in 1785 and has been governed by them ever since. The Thai ownership was confirmed by the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The majority population in the region is Muslim (Malay ethnic). Actually, low level separatist violence has occurred in the region for decades, but the insurgency escalated in 2004, occasionally spilling over into other provinces.

What is the material aspect of the conflict? The material aspect is that, the conflict was caused by the discrimination in terms of political and educational rights towards Malay Muslims. Firstly in terms of political rights, by the late 1990s, Malay Muslims were holding unprecedentedly senior posts in Thai politics, for example with Wan Muhammad Nor Matha (a Malay Muslim from Yala) serving as Chairman of Parliament from 1996 to 2001 and later Interior Minister during the first Thaksin government. Thaksin’s first government (2001–2005) also saw 14 Muslim Members of Parliament (MPs) and several Muslim senators. Muslims dominated provincial legislative assemblies in the border provinces, and several southern municipalities had Malay Muslim mayors. Malay Muslims were able to voice their political grievances more openly and enjoy a much greater degree of religious freedom. However, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force which immediately began widespread crackdowns. Consultation with local community leaders was also abolished. Discontent over the abuses led to growing violence during 2004 and 2005. Muslim politicians and leaders remained silent out of fear of repression, thus eroding their political legitimacy and support. This cost them dearly. In the 2005 general election, all but one of the eleven incumbent Malay Muslim MPs who stood for election were voted out of office. Secondly in term of educational rights, Malay Muslims in the border provinces generally have lower levels of educational attainment compared to their Buddhist neighbors. 69.80% of the Malay Muslim population in the border provinces have only a primary school education, compared to 49.6% of Buddhists in the same provinces. Only 9.20% of Malay Muslims have completed secondary education (including those who graduated from private Islamic schools), compared to 13.20% of Buddhists. Just 1.70% of the Malay Muslim population has a bachelor’s degree, while 9.70% of Buddhists hold undergraduate degrees. However, one must keep in mind that government schools are taught only in Thai, and there is resentment and even outright pulling of children out of Thai-language schools. The lesser educated Malay Muslims also have reduced employment opportunities compared to their Buddhist neighbors. Government officials comprised only 2.4% of all working Malay Muslims in the provinces, compared with 19.2% of all working Buddhists. Jobs in the Thai public sector are difficult to obtain for those Malay Muslims who never fully accepted the Thai language or the Thai education system.[1]

By considering those kinds of discrimination, it is hardly surprising if PULO (Pattani United Liberation Organisation) wants the Malay Muslim-majority southernmost provinces to secede from Thailand or at least will be given some level of regional autonomy.[2]

What is the symbolic aspect of the conflict? The conflict is caused by the discrimination over identity or values of Malay Muslim. As already mentioned and elaborated in the material aspect that Buddhist is more priority than Malay Muslim. This case is such a huge discrimination over identity/ values/ race. Thus, it is not surprisingly if PULO demands an end to perceived discrimination by Thailand, recognition of their unique culture and justice for a litany of alleged abuses by Thai security forces.[3]

What is the relational aspect of the conflict? The conflict happened because of the bad social networks of the leadership. The leaders (in the reign of Thaksin Shinawatra) cannot control his sub-ordinates including his people particularly minority society. His policy even discriminates the minority society in Thailand (the Malay Muslims), “Malay Muslims previously were able to voice their political grievances more openly and enjoy a much greater degree of religious freedom. However, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force which immediately began widespread crackdowns”. This phenomena evident Thaksin hierarchical and heterarchical relations (social network) at the time was really bad which cannot control and maintain states’ stability which resulted in southern insurgency against the government.

But how those three aspects relate or influence each other? The case above actually already shows the connection between those three aspects. The conflict firstly was rooted in the ‘Thaksin bad relations’ with his people.   That bad relations is might be caused by the psychological factors of Thaksin who has desire to diminished the Malay Muslim identity or values involvement in government. Then, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force. That policy evident the main cause of the conflict is about gaining power.

Thus, basically a conflict is caused by material aspects – the desire to get absolute power – which then resulted in the ‘minority identity or values’ discrimination. The discrimination thing, off course, led the destruction over relations between people. [MSS]


[1] Wikipedia.org.(February 2013). South Thailand Insurgency. [online]. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Thailand_insurgency

[2] Ndtv.com.(February 28, 2013). The Deep Roots of Thailand’s Southern Insurgency. [online]. Available: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/the-deep-roots-of-thailand-s-southern-insurgency-336620

[3] Ndtv.com.(February 28, 2013). The Deep Roots of Thailand’s Southern Insurgency. [online]. Available: http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/the-deep-roots-of-thailand-s-southern-insurgency-336620

Why applying cultural understanding and sensitivity ?

Our world is full of diversity including cultural diversity. We all agree that American culture is different with Egyptian as well as Indonesian culture different with Korean, even every region in Indonesia has its own culture. Those facts reveal that our world society is very heterogeneous and high level of plurality. The consequence is that the relation between people is much easier involving in conflict. Thus, cultural understanding and sensitivity in our relations with the other people is really needed in order to avoids conflict and live in harmony.

For instance, in a really simple case – in Russian Federation, vodka drunk without mixture including ice. But, Russian peoples only mix vodka with beer once they want to give a sign that they want to make friends. And if we are offered it to drink, we have to drink it. But if we reject it, it means a humiliation for them.[1]

Concerning this Russian culture, what if a Russian meets with a Religious people (let’s say from Egypt) and give him vodka mixed beer, but the Religious men reject it. So what will happen? Conflict is inevitable, unless the Egyptian has sense of cultural understanding and the Russian has the sense of sensitivity, so that both sides can understand each other – the Egyptian do not need to drink the mixed vodka and the Russian do not need to feel humiliated.

Besides that, not understand and not sensitive to others culture will cause ineffective relations between people. Misunderstanding is so often occur in inter-personal relations which have different culture background.

For instance, in a banquet session, Koreans may eat the meal after all the older people and people who respected already started to eat first. They also should not be raised bowl of rice and soup of the table. They must use a long spoon to pick it up and use chopsticks to pick up side dishes. Precedes parents and raised a bowl on the dining table is considered as rude, also drink by facing older people is not polite. When we offered a drink by parents, we have to accept it with two hands as a respect. Then, turn the other way to sip the drinks without sound.

Concerning this Korean culture, if I go to Korea for the first time without understand the Korean culture, off course it will be a serious problem for me. Let’s say I have invited to have dinner with my Korean friend and his family and unfortunately, my friend forget to inform me the rule of Korean. Suddenly, I just do what I am not supposed to in an innocent way, off course, this moment makes them think that I am not polite at all which will drives them to see me with one eye or even to dislike me.

That kind of misunderstanding is what we need to avoids by understanding others culture and having the sense of sensitive which will makes us more aware about others culture, so that the relationship in friendship and even in business activities can go very well. [MSS]


[1] Life.viva.co.id.(September 3, 2012). Etiket Makan Di Berbagai Negara. [online]. Available: http://life.viva.co.id/news/read/348405-etiket-makan-di-berbagai-negara


Popular Culture As An Effective Source of Soft Power (?)

Power is the ability to influence the behavior of other, so that they would do what they would otherwise not do. Concerning to ‘soft power’, as what Joseph Nye describes “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion,” he sees strong relations with allies, economic assistance programs, and vital cultural exchanges as examples of soft power[1]. In addition, Joseph Nye also argued that “the effect of soft power is not down to the action of the expert. It depends on the perception of the audience”.[2]

We may agree that every state has its own culture, but the difference is some state has popular culture. And popular culture assumed can be utilized as an effective source of soft power. In what ways popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of power? In order to answer the question, I would provide two popular culture – the Hallyu and Western culture – and relate it to the theories and definition given above.

The Western culture, as the popular culture, has been become an effective source of soft power for the West particularly the US. Through its Hollywood movie and rock songs, they show their freedom and democracy life off to the world and implicitly, they are trying to change others preferences particularly the communist countries. The popular culture perceived to have melted the hearts of people in communist countries during the Cold War era. This phenomena in accordance with what Joseph Nye argue that “the effect of soft power is depends on the perception of the audience”. The audience welcomed the western culture and conscious or unconsciously, they adore and wanted the messages of the culture to be implemented in their life.

In the case of Western culture above, it shows that the popular culture has been become an affective source of soft power. It was succeed to make other regions to follow their values. It was succeed to shape most of the world corner view including Indonesia, that freedom and democracy is needed to be implemented. And the facts shows that most of the world countries implementing the freedom and democracy system.

That is how popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of soft power. But in the case of the Hallyu, it is quite different. If the case of western culture seems was influence the political or ideological side, but the Hallyu seems more concern on economic side. But it is still debatable whether Hallyu can be categorized as soft power or not.

Back to the basic thing, that power – soft power in particular, is used for achieving national interest including interest in economy. And the phenomena of Hallyu have benefits South Korea a lot. Why is it benefits South Korea a lot? Because Hallyu is so attractive and it is welcomed warmly by its audiences. The phenomena make peoples crazy of Korea.

This benefits the government because through the Hallyu, Korea promotes their product to the world, and off course, those people around the world who are crazy of Korea will buy Korean product. Not only that, the benefit also comes from their film and music industries as well as the foreign tourist who really loves Korea because of its Hallyu. This is how Hallyu become an effective source of soft power in terms of economic benefits. Hallyu makes the economic national interest of South Korea achieved easily.

Before it is become popular, perhaps there is no international people think about the Hallyu, their products customer is small, few international tourists come to their island. But since it became popular and the audiences were excited and welcomed the culture really warm, everything’s change. Most of world’s eyes now see the Hallyu, they adore every single thing about Korea. That is the evident that the Hallyu or the Korean Wave has changed the preferences of others. If before, they do not want to go to South Korea or do not want to buy Korean products, nowadays, they would buy it all.

South Korea’s music industry earned revenue of just US$120.5 million back in 2007, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a decrease from a year earlier as a previous Korean cultural wave declined from its 2005 peak. But as K-pop’s influence spread, profits increased. Revenue reached US$199.5 million last year, a 65.6 per cent increase on 2007.[3] This huge amount of profit is the evident on how Hallyu or Korean cultural wave can be an effective source of Soft Power particularly in achieving its economic interests.

This phenomena is also in accordance with what describes by Joseph Nye that “soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion and the effect of soft power is depends on the perception of the audience”.

Thus, there is no doubt that popular culture can be utilized as an effective source of soft power in order to achieve the national interests much more easily. Popular culture can be categorized as soft power, not only once it is influence the other to adopt one ideology, but also in terms of economy, popular culture can influence other to give benefits to the one who owned the culture. ~The ability to influence the behavior of other, so that they would do what they would otherwise not do.~ [MSS]


[1] Usforeignpolicy.about.com.(year unknown). Soft Power In US Foreign Policy. [online]. Available:  http://usforeignpolicy.about.com/od/introtoforeignpolicy/a/Soft-Power-In-U-S-Foreign-Policy.htm. (July 15, 2014).

[2] Amy Nip and Christy Cho.(December 2012). How Koran Culture Stormed The World. [online]. Available: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1094145/how-korean-culture-stormed-world (July 15, 2014).

[3] Amy Nip and Christy Cho.(December 2012). How Koran Culture Stormed The World. [online]. Available: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1094145/how-korean-culture-stormed-world (July 15, 2014).


How ethnic and religion issues came to appear as a dilemma, The Case of Muslim Rohingya ethnic in Myanmar.

Culture is “that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law custom and any other capabilities and habits which acquired by man (both genders) as a member of society”

E.B. Tylor

Culture is the basic factor that can influence how people act and doing something around others. Almost every individual or groups of people have different culture in this world. Based on what Tylor stated, we know that culture is the accumulation of knowledge, beliefs (sometimes we called it as religion), arts morals, custom law, and so forth that manifested by man (male and female) during their social life. Those factors, if we really paying attention on it, is a very crucial matters. Every people have different perspectives when seeing or responding something. And if this diversity cannot be well understood by the people, the possibility of conflict among them will be so high. When we talks about culture, sometimes we were facing difficulties to differentiate ethnic and religion.

Those two things are like two different side of a coin. We cannot separated this because it is related each other. Sometimes when we discuss about ethnics about what, how, and why ethnics did such a thing but on the other hands, religion wills then entering the discussion. We cannot deny because sometimes religion is the basic factor of what and how an ethnic behavior. The diversity of culture is become more vulnerable to become a conflict when we talks in the wider environment called state. Talks about cultural diversity at state level, it is very crucial and we have to be careful to deal with this. Usually there are so many different ethnics group that exist in one states. Those ethnics group of course has their own objectives based on they own knowledge and beliefs, they have their own rules and regulation for its people and this will be adhered by the people every time and everywhere in interacting with others.  Imagine that each people in a state have this, if one ethnic is so different and not fit with another and then they interact each other. The possibility of misunderstood and conflict regarding this, is on eyes.


Actually the ethnicity problem was occur long time ago. But, the most worried conflict happened two years ago in June 2012. The conflict is actually between Myanmar Government against Rohingya Muslim ethnic group as minority since 1947 that currently involving Buddhist Rakhine groups as another actors.  The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnically related to the Bengali people living in neighboring Bangladesh’s Chittagong District. They form 90 percent of the one million people living in the north of Rakhine State in Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh and includes the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung. While residents in northern Rakhine State are predominantly Muslim, ethnic Rakhines – primarily Buddhist – are the majority of the state’s three million residents. Actually, some Rohingya have been in Myanmar for long long time ago while others arrived in recent times.

The problem here is the Burmese authorities (Government) at that time consider them as undocumented immigrants and do not recognize them as one of their citizens or as an ethnic group. Rohingya are de jure stateless and the resources of instability in the country. The rejection is supported by the Myanmar President, Mr. Thein Sein that said “Burma will take responsibility for its ethnic nationalities but it is not at all possible to recognize the illegal border-crossing Rohingyas who are not an ethnic [group] in Burma,” on the President’s office website. This conflict worsens when the Rakhine Buddhists involves in June 2012. Homes and places of worship razed. About thousands people were killed and displaced at that time (the majority is Muslim Rohingya). The term “ethnic cleansing” was popular at that time which declared by the Buddhist towards the Muslim Rohingya. Referring to the above case study, if we analyze it carefully, we will then find a dilemma that the conflict is purely because of ethnic differences or religious differences. If the conflict happened because of the ethnicity matters, like what the statement of Myanmar President, then why there is also a religious matter come up as the factor when Rakhine Buddhist involves and try to do ethnic cleansing towards Rohingya Muslim at that time. If the reason is religion differences, it is actually did not make sense because in Myanmar there are three Muslim ethnics which are Burmis muslim, Indian muslim, and Rohingya muslim. So, why then only Rohingya muslim become the only victims on the conflict then. This is the question that cannot be answered by all up to now indeed.

Culture and conflict are linked each other. However, this does not mean that the diversity of culture will always produce conflict. Conflict is a normal phenomenon of people interaction. Conflict can include segregation, discrimination, and exclusion. Whatever the root of the problem, In conflict resolution, tolerance and patience are key factors to prevent conflict. In the case of Myanmar, we see that sometimes culture (ethnic) and religion cannot be separated each other and closely linked. So, while we discussing or debating about ethnics conflict, sometimes the religion matters is came to appear as one of the factor of the conflict.

Source: http://www.irinnews.org/report/96801/briefing-myanmar-s-rohingya-crises

[Rizky Adi Yananto]



Indonesia is famously known as the largest Muslim community in the world. The Indonesian Islam as Culture and political expression has never been a monolithic faith system. Derived from two permanent sources – The Qur’an and Hadits (the examples of the Prophet) – Muslim thinkers, and even politicians  have for decades built up and developed diverse, complicated, and even contradictory interpretations of the two sources in dealing with any religious relations issues.

In the case of Islam in Indonesia, we are fortunate because of the fact that the great majority of Muslims are in favor of waging peace through interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Indeed, a tiny minority of Indonesian Muslims opposes it and argue that endeavor is futile. this sort of attitude happens due to their limited and subjective understanding and interpretations of the same resources. The militant and radical splinter groups from whose wombs terrorists may have bred are actually a new coming dark panorama in Indonesian Islam. Therefore, a lots of outsiders have made a false conclusion as though they are the true representative and the real face of Indonesian Islam. This depicts how is the danger in observing the complex socio-religious phenomena from afar.

Essentially, the Muslim mainstreams in Indonesia are acting as likely as an umbrella and protectors. Since the emergence of Muslim Extremists in Indonesia, churches and other worship places are highly vulnerable to be bombed. But the biggest moderate Islamic Organization in Indonesia called Nahdatul Ulama has embraced all Muslims together protecting others religion worship places in certain big but danger days such as Christmas day and etc. More than that, other important point to note is that believers should not only cooperates among themselves, but should also be ready to coexist with and accommodate the non-believers, and vice versa.

Other facts of action to waging peace has been showed by interfaith leaders when Aceh province – the province applies Islamic Law – was destroyed by the terrible wave of Tsunami in December 2014, Interfaith top figures led by Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja soon made a visit to the area and provided some financial aid to the families affected by the tragedy, including helping to restore a traditional Muslim boarding school called Pesantren that had been wiped out.   (MSS)

source: Hadi,Umar.(2011). Islam In Indonesia. Jakarta Pusat: Directorate of Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia.

Draw a Circle, That’s the Earth

How many times have we heard (or said, or acknowledged) that the Japanese are reserved and diligent, the Italians cook great food, that the Inuits live in igloos made of blocks of ice (fun fact: they don’t), or that Spain is full of hot, muscular men and beautiful women? It should go without saying that many Japanese are in fact extroverted and/or lazy, and that Spain is not a magical land blessed with completely good genetics, but the aforementioned perception still remains—and such perception is what we refer to as stereotypes.

Stereotypes can be very difficult to navigate, especially considering that certain stereotypes can be horribly offensive to certain groups of people, but stereotypes can also be thought-provoking or humorous—Yanko Tsvetkov, for instance has released a series of prejudice maps displaying social, cultural, and political stereotypes of certain countries or regions, and the responses to his tongue-in-cheek approach to stereotypes are mostly positive. Another successful example of the tongue-in-cheek approach to stereotypes is a Japanese webcomic titled Hetalia: Axis Powers, written by Hidekazu Himaruya, which has gained a massive number of followers and enjoyed widespread popularity ever since its first publication in 2008.

The uniqueness of Hetalia lies in the fact that it retells political and historic events, as well as general cultural comparisons, through personifications of countries as its characters. The series’ timeline is not linear, but it originally takes place in World War II—it has steered clear from atrocities such as the Holocaust or Japanese comfort women, and instead focused more on the lighter, more trivial side of the war. The events depicted on Hetalia ranges from more serious historical events, such as the American War of Independence, to lighter ones, such as the Norwegian butter crisis.

True to its name, the main protagonists of Hetalia are the countries which made up the Axis powers during the World War II: Italy (technically North Italy—South Italy is depicted as his sibling), Germany (technically West Germany—East Germany is depicted as his older brother under the name Prussia), and Japan. Alongside the trio are the Allied Powers: United States of America, England, France, China, and Russia. Other countries, ranging from actual states such as Canada to obscure, not-really-states such as Sealand or Ladonia, have also made an appearance.


(L-R, bottom row: Japan, Italy, Germany; middle row: England, America, France; top row: Russia, China)

Hetalia has made extensive use of national stereotypes, both the positive and negative ones, which it incorporates into its character’s personality.

Italy is depicted as carefree and artistic, with an extreme love for Italian cuisines such as pasta and pizza; Germany is stern, hard-working, and responsible—he also enjoys stereotypical German cuisines such as wurst, beer, and potato; Japan is polite, reserved, and good with technology. The stereotypes used to make up the characters’ personality make it easy to identify the country they represent. Here, have a pop quiz as a proof:

  1. An incredibly powerful country whose staple food includes fast food and coke, and who is obsessed with the idea of becoming a hero
  2. A country who is mentally unstable due to his bloody history, who adores vodka and wants other countries to become one with him—and is also feared by his neighboring countries
  3. A country whose weapon of choice includes a wok and a ladle, who is often seen speaking with pandas and is also the oldest living character in the series
  4. A romantic, flirty gourmand who is also very fashionable, who have a long-held rivalry with England
  5. A tea-obsessed country who can’t hold his liquor and who is also a sharp-tongued gentleman who can see and summon magical creatures and perform magic curses on his enemies
[ANSWER: 1) America 2) Russia 3) China 4) France 5) England]


(Several countries depicted in Hetalia--can you guess which one is which based on their flags?)

Hetalia has the potential of being incredibly politically incorrect, especially given its time-setting, and it has indeed gained several controversy—it was, for instance, banned in South Korea due to the ‘offensive’ depiction of South Korea in the series—but the reviews for Hetalia are mostly positive. I personally like it for its lighthearted humor and how it makes history more interesting and slightly easier to learn—and it definitely makes international relations looks much more amusing than it actually is. If you are looking for something entertaining to read or to watch over this holiday, Hetalia is definitely an option you can pick. You can also claim to be ‘studying’ while watching it, which is also a plus.

PS: The title of this article comes from the English translation of the title of Hetalia’s themesong, Marukaite Chikyuu, which comes in 10+ lyrical and tune variations depending on which country is singing it

PPS: Another alternative to Hetalia is the Scandinavia and the World series, a webcomic from the point of view of the personification of the Nordic states which touches recent issues and trivia concerning the region and the world at large that can be read here: http://satw.com