Interpreted as ‘unity in diversity’, Indonesia's national politicians appropriated the slogan Bhinneka Tunggal Ika from a fourteenth century poem to legitimise one nation-state for the diverse archipelago. As Indonesia becomes a rapidly urbanising country, the concepts of ‘unity’ and ‘diversity’ intertwine with changing landscapes and societies. With the growth of cities as centres of population and economic activities, the intensity of development in the city has transformed urban spaces, social interactions, economies and aspirations. Much of these urban transformations have affected urban kampung, early forms of urban settlement. Urban kampung has a historical role in the making of ‘unity in diversity’ as a national concept, but official discourses rarely associate kampung with the slogan, even when concerns on tolerance and diversity increase in urbanising Indonesia. Using urban kampung as a viewpoint in city- and nation-building, we conduct archival and ethnographic research to interpret everyday practices of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. To what extent does the slogan play a role in the social construction of city neighbourhoods? How do everyday realities in an urban kampung relate to the national slogan? As kampung remains relatively autonomous but also stigmatised in the city, taking kampung as a viewpoint allows insights into city- and nation-building knowledge that integrate everyday practice and conceptualization of the city and the nation.
- Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
- everyday life