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ICRS Student Wins 2021 Nusantara Writing Grant

  September 9th 2021

Maksimilianus Jemali (ICRS Batch 2018)

Francois Lyotard (a French philosopher) articulated a dichotomy between big narratives and small narratives where the big narratives are modern thoughts that emphasize a scientific axis which refers to European thought as the only reference to knowledge. However, according to Lyotard, in the postmodern era, the source of knowledge must turn to small narratives, namely the truth that spreads in various cultures. Truth is not singular, but plural and particular, which refers to the appreciation by a particular society. This argument strengthens the belief of Maximilianus Jemali, a student of the Ph.D. program at the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (Batch 2018) that every culture has certain traditions in the context of peace, with certain rituals, internalized or externalized in certain ways. In this case, it is the task of various groups to explore these various, culturally-situated truths intensively so that they may be useful for others. 

Maximilianus Jemali recently won the Nusantara Writing Grant 2021, a national award, where his dissertation proposal entitled 'Hambor as Little Narrative in Managing Conflict and Peace Situation in Manggarai, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara'. This award becomes even more special because the Nusantara Writing Grant (NWG), itself, is a national competition for writing a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation that discusses various topics in accordance with the vision, mission, and platform of the Nusantara Institute relating to various aspects of culture, religion, tradition, and culture of local kingdoms throughout Indonesia. Moreover, a total of 130 proposals submitted to the Nusantara Writing Grant competition entered the selection stage from various campuses in Indonesia and even from foreign countries.

Jemali, a lecturer at the Indonesian Catholic University of Saint Paul Ruteng, Manggarai, Flores, explained that the word hambor, comes from the Manggarai language, and means 'peace or harmony'. Hambor is a tradition of peace, part of local wisdom, and a model of conflict resolution based on the Manggarai culture. This tradition has a generative character because it is passed down from generation to generation and with specific rituals. What is interesting, however, is that the Manggarai ancestors created a tradition of peace. Hambor is the greatest force that binds the Manggarai community in peace and harmony among human beings, with nature, ancestors, and the Creator. Hambor is the essence and the biggest guarantor (capital) of peace in Manggarai in the midst of various conflicts at different levels of socety. The Manggarai people see the universe as a giant spider web, creation is interconnected with the power of hambor. When the word or tradition of hambor is mentioned, for example, the Manggarai people must immediately feel a spirit that binds them “that is peace and harmony”. Hambor can also be a shared spirit for all people who live in Manggarai even though they are of different ethnicity, religion, race, or class. This also shows that Manggarai culture actually contributes to efforts to maintain harmony in diversity.

Furthermore, Jemali explained that the selection of his dissertation proposal as one of the winners of the Nusantara Writing Grant has not only become a source of pride but also a form of responsibility to preserve the richness of culture and local wisdom. Through this scientific work, he has taken part in exploring noble values contained in the Manggarai culture in order to share them widely so that they can be realized as one of the systems which help to bond the diversity of the archipelago. He also hopes that what he does will motivate the younger generation to remain faithful in learning, maintaining, and developing their respective traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. According to Jemali, the next generation is responsible for maintaining traditions even though there is room for modification, restructuring, or cultural revitalization. It is important to show identity and pride in each other's traditions, to be proud of the ancestors who have sparked the peace tradition, and to be proud to introduce it widely.