Civic and religious education in Manado, Indonesia: ethical deliberaion about plural coexistence
Larson, Erica Michelle
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This dissertation project is an ethnographic analysis of multi-leveled interactions taking place in the process of deliberation about plural coexistence in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. The focus of the dissertation is on how youth are socialized into ethical perspectives, and how they negotiate, implement, and circulate frameworks for approaching religious difference. As Indonesian society is becoming increasingly divided along religious lines, the pressing need for a viable consensus for national cohesion has heightened the importance attributed to civic and religious education in schools. The particular field site is a majority-Protestant region with a national reputation for success in modeling tolerance and inter-religious relations. Starting by mapping relevant institutions and organizations that shape the public conversation on questions of plurality and citizenship, I demonstrate how schools channel ethical dispositions toward difference through the curriculum and the everyday realities of the schools. I continually consider how these ethical perspectives articulate with the broader public sphere. I provide case studies in three educational institutions in North Sulawesi, Indonesia: a public high school, a private Catholic high school, and a public madrasah (Islamic high school). My theoretical perspective on ethical socialization links education as “deliberation” (Varenne 2007) with the concept of “reflective freedom” (Laidlaw 2014) as intrinsic to ethics in order to demonstrate how educational institutions channel ethics and act as arenas for individual and public deliberation. Furthermore, I consider how the ethical deliberations about difference at these schools are negotiated by youth. As young Indonesians navigate institutional policies and take classes in religious and civic education, they also make daily decisions, including whom to befriend, how to wear the school uniform, and what to eat for lunch. In doing so, they engage in ethical deliberation about difference. I argue that this ongoing and dynamic process is significant because of the consequences for how these actors understand the conditions of inclusion and exclusion in the national context, and in turn, shape the broader political context with which the analysis begins.