Higher-degree research being undertaken by Jazak Hidayat




Associate Professor Ruth Phillips and Associate Professor Sue Goodwin

Thesis title:

Representation of the Meratus peoples within the discourse of indigenous movement in Indonesia: a postcolonial analysis



Project description

This research presents an analysis of competing discourses of indigeneity in Indonesia. Although government have played a significant role, NGOs have played a more recent and profound role in constructing and shaping discourses that articulate an identity for indigenous Indonesians that seeks to compete the state’s policies on the so-called ‘adat communities’. The Indonesian government holds that there are no real issues related to indigeneity in Indonesia as it claims that all Indonesians are basically indigenous and prefers to use the term customary law communities or isolated communities to describe communities that live in remote rural areas and strictly maintain their local tradition. However, many NGOs and activists insist that the government should recognise the existence of indigenous peoples in Indonesia and protect their rights. Based on a closer look at the life of the Meratus peoples in South Kalimantan province, this issue has raised key questions about how the NGOs contribute to the representation of their indigeneity, how the Meratus peoples represent themselves within the strengthening indigeneity discourse in Indonesia, and how the state retains its long-established concept of adat community in response to the strengthening discourse of indigeneity. Based on a postcolonial theoretical perspective, this study is aimed at exploring constructions of meaning about Indonesian indigeneity produced through activisms’ discourses in Indonesia via a focused study on the Meratus peoples in South Kalimantan province. However, the research does not aim to make generalisations about indigenous experiences across all local communities in Indonesia.

Jazak Hidayat’s passion for research on social justice issues and marginalised communities started when he was doing his Master on social work studies in UIN Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Since 2007, he has been working in the Centre for Education and Training on Social Welfare for the Kalimantan region. Working for years in this area introduced him to issues affecting local and indigenous communities, which then became his main research interest in his current PhD program. Along with his research topic, he is also concerned with issues on social activism, postcolonial studies and participatory research and empowerment.


  • Australia Award Scholarship 2014-2018

Professional and community roles

  • Member – International Society for Third-sector Research
  • Member – Sydney Southeast Asia Centre
  • Research assistant for a research project funded by the Sydney School of Education and Social Work in 2016. Project’s topic: Exploring international higher degree research students’ experiences and expectations as a way to understand how future lasting professional relationship between overseas students and the host higher education institution may be built

Conference presentations