About Lowy Institute Webinar: Joko Widodo - Man of Contradictions

Presented by the Lowy Institute: Joko Widodo - Man of Contradictions

About the presentation

From a riverside shack to the presidential palace, Joko Widodo surged to the top of Indonesian politics on a wave of hope for change. However, six years into his presidency, the former furniture maker is struggling to deliver the reforms that Indonesia desperately needs. Despite promising to build Indonesia into an Asian powerhouse, Jokowi, as he is known, has faltered in the face of crises, from COVID-19 to an Islamist mass movement. Man of Contradictions, the first English-language biography of Jokowi, argues that the President embodies the fundamental contradictions of modern Indonesia. He is caught between democracy and authoritarianism, openness and protectionism, Islam and pluralism. Jokowi’s incredible story shows what is possible in Indonesia – and it also shows the limits.


About the Speaker

Ben Bland is Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute and the author of Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the Struggle to Remake Indonesia. Ben was previously an award-winning correspondent for the Financial Times in Indonesia, China and Vietnam. He lived in Jakarta for four years and has travelled widely across the Indonesian archipelago from Aceh to West Timor and Manado to Flores. Ben interviewed Jokowi on numerous occasions, tracking his rise from mayor of Solo to the presidential palace, and getting to know key advisers, officials and ministers. Ben’s first book, Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, was acclaimed for its prescient insights into Hong Kong’s intensifying political conflict with Beijing. He has a BA in History from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. Ben regularly writes and comments for a wide range of media outlets including the ABC News, Australian Financial Review, BBC, CNN, Financial TimesThe Guardian, and the Sydney Morning Herald.


For more information on Ben's book, click here


About the host

Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller is an AIIA Queensland Council Member and Research Fellow Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific at The University of Queensland’s Centre for Policy Futures. Her research agenda focuses on how Southeast Asian states are managing major power contest in the Indo-Pacific and what this means for Australia’s policy choices. A focal point of her research is the nexus between Indonesia’s domestic political imperatives and foreign policy decision-making. Greta has extensive professional experience working on Australia’s bilateral relationship with Indonesia and received a Secretary's Commendation for support to Defence Operation Sumatra Assist I & II in response to the 2004-2005 Aceh tsunami crisis. She finished her Australian Public Service career with the Defence Intelligence Organisation as a Senior Indonesia Analyst and continues to utilise her Indonesia country expertise in consulting, research, and international development roles. Greta contributes regularly to media and think-tank analysis on regional strategic, political and foreign policy issues, and engages with policy communities through submissions, dialogues, conferences and executive educations programs