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Issue 11.1, February 1996

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Essay Excerpt

"Unity in diversity" (bhinneka tunggal ika), the national motto of the Republic of Indonesia, is a representation of statehood that explicitly and successfully spells out the relationship between the state as a set of rituals and routines (Corrigan and Sayer 1985) and the people for whom, by whom, and through whom these are deployed. Throughout Indonesia the motto is on display everywhere: under photos of the republic's leaders and heroes, on plaques in offices, and inscribed on public monuments. It also circulates on money, stamps, and other national tokens. So familiar to Indonesians, and rapidly to visitors as well, "university in diversity" is often taken at face value, as a mere epithet describing a certain congruence held to underlie the astonishing variety of people's and cultures within the nation's borders."

From "Diversity with a Difference: Adat and the New Order in Aru (Eastern Indonesia)" by Patricia Spyer