Margaret Scott was Cultural Editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and has written about Indonesia for The New York Review and the Times Literary Supplement. She teaches at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

 (October 2016)


Indonesia: The Saudis Are Coming

Indonesian Muslims at morning prayers in Yogyakarta during Eid al-Adha, the festival marking the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi holy city of Mecca, September 2016

Nurturing the Salafi Manhaj: A Study of Salafi Pesantrens in Contemporary Indonesia

by Din Wahid

Transnational Islamic Actors and Indonesia’s Foreign Policy: Transcending the State

by Delphine Alles
In 1980, Saudi Arabia started an all-expenses-paid university in Jakarta. The Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic (LIPIA), housed in a modern building sheathed in blue reflective glass, has produced tens of thousands of graduates trained in a strict, puritanical Salafi Islam in stark contrast to the relaxed, …

Indonesia: The Battle Over Islam

Indonesian President-Elect Joko Widodo (left) receiving a tour of the presidential palace from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono the day before Widodo’s inauguration, Jakarta, October 2014

Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java: A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to the Present

by M.C. Ricklefs

Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values

by Carool Kersten
The Islamic State’s butchery and takeover of territory in Iraq and Syria dominate the headlines, but a much less violent yet little-known conflict exists in Indonesia, where more Muslims live than in all of the Middle East. It is a battle to define Islam in Indonesia and it matters because …

Indonesia Reborn?

In the days after Suharto’s downfall this May, a huge construction pit in the middle of Jakarta, abandoned and filled with mud, was transformed into a remarkable, and illegal, amphitheater. A ragtag group of artists and activists decided they couldn’t resist the symbolism of the pit—the very image of boom …


V.S. Naipaul’s most recent visit with Imaduddin took place well before Indonesia’s economic collapse in December. What has happened to him and his patron Habibie now? On a recent Sunday morning, I visited Imaduddin in his study. “I haven’t been well,” he said when I arrived. Thin and walking slowly, …


Uncovering Indonesia’s Act of Killing

Indonesian soldiers taking suspected Communists to prison during a military crackdown in which some 500,000 Indonesians were killed, Jakarta, October 30, 1965

This declassification comes at a moment when politics in Indonesia have become sharply polarized. A reckoning over 1965 is very much a part of today’s political struggle. Although there is an appetite, especially among young people, to know more about what happened then, there has also been a fierce backlash from army generals and Islamist politicians who warn that any talk of reconciliation or apology is a plot to revive communism.

The Indonesian Massacre: What Did the US Know?

Indonesian soldiers near the burning wreckage of a vehicle, following the assassination of six army generals, Jakarta, October 1965

US President Barack Obama and Indonesia President Joko Widodo share a personal connection to one of the worst massacres anywhere since World War II, the carefully orchestrated mass killings that brought a US-backed dictatorship to power. Now, declassified CIA documents are raising new questions about US involvement in those events.