Sunday, February 14, 2010


On October 2nd 2009, in a meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), represented by 114 state members, make a move celebrated by all Indonesian. First, they formally recognized Indonesia as the representative of the Indonesian Batik heritage. Secondly, they recognized Indonesian Batik as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Following Indonesian Keris and the Wayang Puppet theatre already recognized in 2008.

UNESCO sees the Batik as the techniques, symbolism and culture surrounding hand-dyed cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian Batik permeate the lives of Indonesians from beginning to end: infants are carried in batik slings decorated with symbols designed to bring the child luck, and the dead are shrouded in funerary batik. Clothes with everyday designs are worn regularly in business and academic settings, while special varieties are incorporated into celebrations of marriage and pregnancy and into puppet theatre and other art forms.

Furthermore, I will try to describe the correlation between UNESCO recognition of Indonesian Batik as Intangible Cultural Heritage in a Globalization perspectives.

But we need to have a clear view on what is Globalization concept refers to. Indeed Globalization is a trending topic of today’s daily word. It grows the significance in the daily life of the people. The word was scarcely used before the late 1980s, even in academic circles, but today you can hardly open a newspaper without encountering the term. Some will refer Globalization to the entrenched and enduring patterns of interconnectedness. It suggests a growing magnitude or intensity of global flows. But how can we fit Batik recognition phenomena into the Globalization debate?

I will try to frame the concept based on Thomas Hylland Eriksen book “Globalization: the key concept.” He argues that to understand the word, it may be a good idea to mention a few things associated with globalization, either simplistically or wrongly. First, Globalization is just a new word for economic imperialism or cultural westernization. Although it is tautology true that rich countries are dominant, the situation is not static. The direction of transnational flows is not unilateral: some things flow from north to south, others from south to north, and there is also movement between east and west and within the south. Westernization is not a good synonym for globalization. At this point the recognition of batik by UNESCO may be seen as a proof the multi directional flows, from Indonesia, for the world. And it surely opened opportunity for increased flows of Batik as ideas, capital, goods and human resources for the world.

Secondly, Globalization means homogenization. To some extent homogenization occurred in a sense of standardization. Process of creating shared standards, comparability and ‘bridging principles’ of translation between formerly discrete and sometimes incommensurable world. Monetary economy, industrial production synchronization, and Microsoft word processors are a few example of standardization. Here we can see the UNESCO as the form of institutional standardization to define Intangible Cultural Heritage. Therefore, create the relatively heightened homage to the disperse and diverse heritage through out the world. Now we can say that thanks to UNESCO, Batik had leveled up its value of respect to the world stage.

Third, Globalization as a threat to local identities. At the very best this is a truth with serious modifications. To this point Batik could be seen as endangered, due to effects of globalization, uniformization policies, and lack of means, appreciation and understanding which – taken together – may lead to the erosion of functions and values of such elements and to lack of interest among the younger generations. But on the contrary, there are counteractions as well. Tendencies towards globalization beget strong, localizing counteractions favoring local food, local customs and so on. This is what may be called as Glocalization. The Local Batik as part of identities are strengthened because people begin to emphasize their uniqueness overtly only when it appears to be threatened. But this not to say that local power oftenly weakened as a result of globalization.

Indonesian dispersed in every corner of the world celebrates UNESCO’s move. In Sweden, Indonesian students organized by Indonesian Student Association-Sweden (PPI Swedia), wore batik as a gesture of homage to the long living heritage. They also take pictures in front of their campus, in city landscapes and actively promoting awareness to the locals regarding the batik. The shared imagination and festive unites students participated, namely from, Dalarna, Gävle, Goteborg, Luleå, Linköping, Lund, Malmo, Norrköping, Linkoping, Örebro, Stockholm, Uppsala and many other city.

In Goteborg, author city of study, the sheer excitement is manifold. Thousand of miles away from home, in a country best in lots of categories, students address their homesickness by bringing home to them. By wearing the batik and wearing it with proud. In front of Chalmers Teknisk Hogskola they gather to take lots of picture as a symbol of homage. Not to mention their active role in promoting Indonesia, using batik as an entry tool of discussion with the fellow students.

This, I will argue, Globalization in action. Student in foreign countries as a manifestation of increased flows of capital, goods, people, ideas, and technology is a beneficiary part of the Globalization. And they celebrate their locality of Indonesian Batik. The Globalization heightened up the local.


1. David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.), 2007, Globalization Theory; Approaches and Controversies. Cambridge, Polity press.

2. David Held & Anthony Mcgrew (eds.), 2000, The Global Transformations reader; an introduction to the globalization debate. Cambridge, Polity press.

3. Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, 2007, Globalization. Oxford, Berg.


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