Notion of Ethnicity and the Sense of Belonging to a Neighborhood Community: An Insight from City Life of Betawi in Jakarta, Indonesia

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:55
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Shohei NAKAMURA, Kyoto University, Japan
The greater Jakarta area represents a heterogeneous social space where a multi-ethnic condition is omnipresent. This presentation focuses on neighborhood districts historically dominated by ethnic Betawi, the so-called “Batavian Indigenous.” The presenter examines the sense of belonging to “face-visible” neighborhood communities as is recognized and represented in everyday lifeworld of Betawi residents in regard with ethnicity, an abstract concept of human-classification designed by the nation-state as sub-categories under the nation. The aim of this presentation is twofold. First, it attempts to depict the layered structure of group consciousness perceived in neighborhood districts, which cannot be reduced to a singular abstract category. The notion of Betawi Ethnicity, as it emerges in the immediate social settings, does so in relation to the sense of belonging to respective neighborhoods. This analysis will clarify that the abstract group consciousness is based on attachments to neighborhood communities. An ethnic community and a neighborhood community are both imagined but in very different styles. The secondary aim is to point out some of the characteristics of the style in which the “face-visible” communities are imagined in contrast to ethnicity. Cases of Betawi dominated neighborhoods in Jakarta shall exemplify that the imagination of a neighborhood district as a community to which people feel their belonging is essentially made possible through daily face-to-face interactions where individuals are recognized in their singularity; but that this community is imagined in an abstract manner in that people often do not have holistic knowledge of, nor are acquainted with most of its members. In Jakarta, what makes this abstract community feel so “face-visible” is the recurrent juxtaposition of it to a more abstract community of ethnicity. And this reiterated juxtaposition is what ensures a channel so as to recognize and represent individuals in Jakarta not by the homogeneous classification but by multi-layered ascription.