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Stephanie Fried is a specialist on Asian and Pacific issues at Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, D.C. She is also currently a Visiting Fellow at the East West Center's Program on Environment. Dr. Fried has conducted research and worked with indigenous communities and environmental organizations in Indonesia for over five years, beginning in 1983. Most recently, she spent two years with the Bentian of East Kalimantan, documenting their sustainable forestry practices and assisting them in their efforts to preserve their forested territories.

 

Abstract of paper given at Indigenous Traditions and Ecology conference:
God Squads, Believers, and Backsliders: Religion and Forest Politics in Outer Island Indonesia

In modern Indonesia, belief in "One, Supreme God" is a requirement of citizenship. This stems from the Panca Sila (Five Principles) laid out by Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, in 1945, in a speech made two months before the Indonesian proclamation of independence. The official demand for "religions of the book" has often placed practitioners of indigenous religions, which are classified as "beliefs," in uncomfortable, if not untenable positions. In Indonesia's Outer Islands, many of the followers of indigenous religious also inhabit regions of spectacular wealth in terms of natural resources. This paper explores aspects of the complex interactions between promoters of official religions and practitioners of indigenous religions and the impact of these interactions on cultural and ecological integrity in the Outer Islands.

 

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Indigenous Traditions and Ecology conference participants