Cultural diversity, conflict experience and spiteful behaviour in Indonesia

Indonesia has a long history of conflict and violence. Following more than 300 years of Dutch or Dutch-backed colonialism, the country’s proclamation of independence in 1945 was followed by four years of revolutionary war against the Allied-backed Dutch.

Subsequently, Indonesia suffered from a number of civil wars in 1950s, anti-communist purge in the last half of 1960s, state-terrorism throughout the Soeharto era from 1968 to 1998 and ethno-communal violence in 1998-2004. In 2005, the Aceh insurgency, the last large conflict, ended and the country has finally experienced a relative peace. The threat of violence, however, persists as Indonesia is now characterised by a high frequency of small-scale violence.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 promotes peace, justice and strong institutions at all levels. Targets 16.1 (significant reduction of violence and related deaths), in particular, is instrumental for Indonesia.

Photo of a busy highway. The city surrounds the highway with tall, mostly white buildings. There are trees and plants growing on the border of the highway.

It is in this context that the study investigates factors contributing to violence in post-conflict Indonesia and how conflict experience has an impact on behaviour. In this study, the focus is on how cultural diversity has an impact on violence, as has been shown in many past cross-country studies and in the eruptions of ethno-communal violence during the country’s transition to democracy. Meanwhile, a spiteful behaviour lab-in-the-field experiment is used to understand the impact of conflict during the Aceh insurgency on today’s behaviour. Also, SDG target 16.7 (inclusive decision-making) of the SDG is relevant as women in Aceh were largely side-lined during the reconciliation process and it may have an impact on their behaviour.

Project timeline: 2016 - 2019

Key contributors: 

This project addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals and Targets:

16.1 Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere

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For more information or to discuss partnership and collaboration opportunities, email us at SDGs@rmit.edu.au.

For more information about RMIT’s sustainability commitments and activities visit www.rmit.edu.au/sustainability

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.