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Indonesia Etc. Exploring the Improbable Nation by Elizabeth Pisani - A book and blog about Indonesia, travel, politics, nationhood, adat - Thousands of islands.
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Review of Indonesia Etc - New Mandala

Over 65 million Indonesians use Facebook, though 80 million live without electricity. It is one of the richest and most enchanting countries on earth, but is riddled, too, with ineptitude and corruption. Elizabeth Pisani, who first worked in Indonesia 25 years ago as a foreign correspondent and came back a decade later as a medical researcher, set out in to rediscover its enduring attraction, and to find the links which bind together this impossibly disparate nation.

She travelled for over a year, covering 13, miles by land and sea, dropping in on local potentates and staying with farmers and fishermen, and nomads and nurses, often on islands too small to appear on a map. Cookies on FT Sites We use cookies for a number of reasons, such as keeping FT Sites reliable and secure, personalising content and ads, providing social media features and to analyse how our Sites are used.

Manage cookies. Make sense of a disrupted world Explore the new agenda. Review by Ben Bland July 4, Experimental feature. Listen to this article Play audio for this article Pause What was mispronounced? Optional: help us by adding the time. Reuse this content opens in new window. Promoted Content.

Information about Topic Tracker. Soenarko was supporing their ticket. I wonder if anyone who has yet to spend a significant time in Indonesia will feel the same way, though. Dangdut is an Indonesian pop music which combines vaguely Indian melodies with the dang-dut dang-dut beat of conical gendang drums, a sort of Bollywood-House music mash-up.

My only gripe about the book is that Pisani does not structure this book based on themes, but rather based on the route she visited. That is perfectly acceptable as a travel book, but this book is a lot more than a mere travel book. It is a commentary, it is also a history book, filled with very astute observations about the psychology, feelings, and quirkiness of one of the most diverse countries in the world that nobody knew about.

I wished she had structured this book based on themes, as she touches on so many insightful topics: corruption, the genocide, racism, deforestation, religious extremism, etc. Pisani has easily cemented herself as one of my favorite writers, and I felt sad when I reached the last page of Indonesia, Etc.

No worries, now I am on to her next book: The Wisdom of Whores. Oct 24, Grady McCallie rated it it was amazing. This is a wonderful book, extraordinary in a couple ways. First, Pisani's research took her, often traveling solo, all over Indonesia, to remote islands and villages, staying with friendly strangers she met along the way. That takes guts and a remarkable openness to whatever experiences fate sent her way. Second, her account of her travels is anything but a raw or unfiltered account - her writing sparkles with straightforward intelligence and a winning humility.

The great stories and interesting This is a wonderful book, extraordinary in a couple ways. The great stories and interesting people she meets are there, but in every case, Pisani uses concrete incidents or observations as a springboard for discussions of social structure, demographics, customs, recent history, or the strains that globalization and modernity are placing on different parts of Indonesia. She has a rare gift for showing how personal details reflect larger trends and patterns, as well as local and national histories.

My reason for reading the book was the realization last summer that, although Indonesia is the world's fourth largest country right after the US , and home to the largest Mulsim population in the world, I knew virtually nothing about it.

The two are good complements - Hannigan covers the long sweep of the archipelago's history, but has a heavier focus on Java and Samatra; Pisani really goes off the beaten track to give a sense of the incredible cultural and economic diversity of the country today. It's also worth reading Indonesia, Etc, with Google Earth ready to hand - Pisani identifies locations precisely, making it easy to follow along and look at pictures of the landscapes she describes.

Aug 02, Maisya Farhati rated it it was amazing. I don't exaggerate if I consider it as a must-read book on contemporary Indonesia. Basically, it is a travelogue of Elizabeth Pisani's month journey around Indonesia.

Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation (Unabridged)

Not merely a usual traveling and sightseeing, the author has gone to the places that even not all Indonesians might have known or visited. Experienced as a journalist, she was able to deeply engage with locals and get the honest comments and stories that we might have never heard before. This book highlights some topics of recent I don't exaggerate if I consider it as a must-read book on contemporary Indonesia.

This book highlights some topics of recent condition in Indonesia, such as politics, economy, decentralization and the practices in various regions and corruption issues.


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Moreover, in many parts of the book, she also revealed daily life in Indonesia with humanist approach. What Elizabeth Pisani has written in the book might not always make us smile and happy. Some act as reality check for us among abundance of compliments and highlights of various development achievements.

Indonesia Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation

Some are reflection of what Indonesia has been through in the past and what we can learn. Combination of history, journalism and honest narration make this book a really enjoyable piece to read. A well written white savior complex arguments. Call me guilty but it is still amusing. Elizabeth Pisani is first and foremost a journalist.

You can see it in her style of writing, blending a wealth of facts with political commentary, conversations with people and behavioral observations. She paints a detailed picture of life in Indonesia in what looks like a series of articles for each region. In all honesty, it felt like cheating at times. Here I am, getting the information that the author has amassed over the span of decades into one condensed form where everything is already laid out for me, with no obstacles or awkward conversations.

It helped me endear myself to people by understanding what they mean when they talk about local politics and WHY they were naturally friendly and inclusive. Once I knew that, the way I interacted with people was more relaxed because I knew what to expect - people will always offer to help. I got a lot of smiles requesting this. Elizabeth also points out how time flows differently in Indonesia than it does in Western society.

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Westerners are considered too impatient because they expect things to be done on time. Forward thinking and planning is also not widespread. People have a tendency to live in the moment, without expecting to invest too much effort. The explanation given for this is that Indonesia has always been a fertile land due to volcanic ash. All you have to do is plant a seed and reap the benefits a few months later. Commerce is at the heart of why Indonesians choose to do what they do together with group identity and have no hang-ups fusing their principles with market rules, if need be.

The other side of corruption in Indonesia - Elizabeth Pisani - TEDxUbud

A lot of this has to do with the fact that Indonesia has always been a trading country spice, rubber, mineral resources, fishing etc. Next to him sat a cold beer.

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I was nervous. I approached my fellow guest. He turned the book to show me the cover. I must have looked shocked. Long pause. I confessed to having written it. He stared at me, looked at the author photo, looked at me again. It was hard to say which of us was the more surprised.

Well worth a read if you want to learn more about Indonesia.