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.
 (May 2016)

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
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 …

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.

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, …