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The July newsletter features notes from the CRCS intersession course Religion and Human Rights. There are also links to book and thesis reviews from CRCS students; a reflective essay on being a Jew in Indonesia from our outgoing Shansi English Fellow; a summary of Dr. Barbara Andaya's presentation on Muslim Christian relations in the 17th Century; and the release of a TEDx talk by one of our faculty members.

In this essay, Shansi Fellow Eli Fisher reflects on being Jewish in Indonesia; his travels to find out more about Jewish communities; and how they deal with public expressions of anti-Semitism in the country. (Indonesian and English)

Contentious memories of bloody battles between Muslims and Christians in Europe and the Middle East traveled to Southeast Asia through global circuits of trade, imperial occupation, and missionary rivalries. This significantly shaped the frequent friction between Muslims and Christians in 17th century Southeast Asia, but historical evidence also shows traditions of tolerance.


CRCS lecturer Dr. Kelli Swazey's newly released talk from TEDxUbud 2018 discusses the Sama Bajau community of Sampela and their cosmology of the sea. In the course of making the soon to be released short documentary "Our Land is the Sea/Air Tanahku," Swazey and her Bajau collaborators explored how coral reef extinction is changing cultural and religious life for people of Sampela, and why to protect biodiversity, we have to defend human diversity.

Cap Go Meh or the Lantern Festival has long been celebrated by Chinese communities in Indonesia. Interestingly, it has also been part of an annual event awaited by non-Chinese residents in Tegal, Central Java, who also participate in the celebration and regard the event as their own.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights was meant to be universally applied. In its implementation, however, the rights outlined in the decree are negotiated in various political contexts within sovereign countries, something that may reduce their universality. The existence of the “margin of appreciation” in the European Court on Human Rights is an example. (Indonesian)

Human rights stems from the concept of human dignity. The question remains whether it is feasible to derive justifications for human dignity from various cultures and religions that may have elements that contradict each other? This essay argues that it is feasible, and this can lead to a further acceptability of human rights across cultures and religions. (Indonesian)

The aspiration to accommodate all cultures in the name of multiculturalism may clash with the promotion of gender equality, as some cultures or religions still maintain practices that perpetuate patriarchy such as forced marriage and polygamy. Is there a means to reconcile these positions? (Indonesian)

Unlike in other Muslim-majority countries, Idul Fitri gatherings in Indonesia are filled with the tradition of exchanging apologies. This tradition should remind Muslims of one of the core tenets of their religion: that it is not only about creeds (aqida) and law (sharia), but also mercy.

CRCS Newsletter of July 2018

The Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS) is a Master's Degree program in Religious Studies and a research center at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM).
Gedung Sekolah Pascasarjana UGM Floors 3 & 4
Jl. Teknika Utara, Pogung, Yogyakarta, Indonesia 55281
Telephone: +62 274 544976. Email:

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Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies (CRCS), Universitas Gadjah Mada · Gedung Sekolah Pascasarjana UGM Lantai III – IV, Jalan Teknika Utara, Pogung · Yogyakarta 55281 · Indonesia

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