Studying Terrorism in Indonesia
Studying extreme ideologies and violent behaviour poses particular challenges for the researcher. Those involved in violence are often reluctant to discuss their actions or are antipathetic to the researcher. Ethical and legal restrictions on interviewing extremists can also pose considerable problems. But perhaps hardest of all is the search for sufficient reliable information to enable a detailed analysis of why terrorists behave as they do.
In this paper, I will discuss some of the methodological difficulties in researching extreme religious behaviour in Indonesia as well as some of the analytical challenges. I will also examine some of the recent developments in Indonesian terrorism and consider future directions in research on this subject.
Greg Fealy is associate professor of Indonesian politics and head of the Department of Political and Social Change, in the College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University. He gained his PhD from Monash University in 1998 with a study of the history of Nahdlatul Ulama, published in Indonesian under the title Ijtihad Politik Ulama: Sejarah NU, 1952-1967. He is the co-author of Joining the Caravan? The Middle East, Islamism and Indonesia (2005), Radical Islam and Terrorism in Indonesia (2005) and Zealous Democrats: Islamism and Democracy in Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey (2008). He is also co-editor of Soeharto’s New Order and it’s Legacy (2010), Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia (2008), Voices of Islam in Southeast Asia: A Contemporary Sourcebook (2006), Local Power and Politics in Indonesia: Decentralisation and Democratisation (2003) and Nahdlatul Ulama, Traditionalism and Modernity in Indonesia (1995). He is the director of the DFAT-funded Partnership in Islamic Education Scholarships (PIES) program. He was the C.V. Starr Visiting Professor in Indonesian politics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Washington DC, in 2003, and has been a consultant to DFAT, USAID, The Asia Foundation and BP. From 1997 to 1999 he was an Indonesia analyst at the Australian Government’s Office of National Assessments. He has been a board member of the Australia-Indonesia Institute since 2014. For more see Associate Professor Greg Fealy’s staff profile.