More then ‘a child’s play’: overcoming differences through independence-day celebration in kampung community in Jakarta

Paper presented at 5th EUROSEAS CONFERENCE

in Napoli, Italy


Indonesia is a country of differences in term of ethnicity and religion. The diversity is even more pronounced in urban areas such as in the country’s capital city, Jakarta. Neighborhood organization in Jakarta -known as RT/RW (rukun tetangga / rukun warga)-, like in any other part of the country, is the organization closest to the people in their day- to-day life that has to deal with differences among the people of its respective community. While bearing the image of ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘semi-government’, as well as loosing enthusiasm from the people, this neighborhood associa- tion in fact still functions in a certain degree. One of the occasions when this neighborhood association can come again into view is during the celebration of independence-day in the month of august each year, since the association will take the lead in the preparation and the conducting of the celebration in its community. The independence-day cele- bration itself will include various games and sports competition prior to the D-day, gathering of the people at the eve of the D-day -known as tasakuran or syukuran-, followed by various games for children in the D-day (august 17), and the last event in the form of various music-singing-dancing show.

In this paper, the author will focus on neighborhood association in an urban community in Jakarta during independ- ence-day celebration, and will try to bring out the local way of dealing with differences among themselves by benefit- ing from the celebration. The urban community to be introduced in the paper is a community in a densely populated area of middle and lower class, known as kampung area. The data for the paper itself will be based on the findings from author’s field work in a kampung community in Jakarta.