Pamela K. Sari
Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Susan Curtis
Specific Research Area / Project:
Transnational Religious Ties between Megachurches in Indonesia and Christian Institutions in the US
English Department (concentration in American Studies), Diponegoro University, Semarang, Indonesia
My research looks at Indonesian religious and ethnic minorities (Indonesian Christians and Chinese Indonesians) and how they work with Christian institutions in the US, including with Indonesian immigrant churches. You might ask how research on Indonesia can be considered “American Studies.” Good question, because this is where I hope to contribute to the field. In the words of American Studies scholars Edwards and Gaonkar, I am researching the “archives of America abroad.” I am researching the America that so many people outside the US geographical borders are familiar with, the America that came in contact with them.
In this study of transnational religious ties between churches in Indonesia and Christian institutions in the US, I am also interested in looking at how people maintain such ties both online and offline. These spaces are important to look at, not only because this is how people communicate in this global era, but also because these spaces themselves signify what transnational religious ties are all about: the unfinished, mobile, incomplete, translatable, changeable archive and experience.
P is for Pam, um…I mean Purdue. American Studies at Purdue has instilled in me that our personal, political, professional aspirations can work hand-in-hand. It also teaches me (as I am sure it is true for most people) that research life is a journey. It is like finding yourself and one thing in the world (or maybe several things) that you really care about and want to commit your life to doing. So I am here for that journey.
In thinking about Indonesia and religious experiences in both my home country and the US, I found myself not only thinking about how people from different religious traditions can get along and learn from each other. I found myself thinking about diversity, about power relationship, and stereotypes surrounding religious life and other aspects like race, class, and gender. On a program of On Being (onbeing.org), scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah said these words: “Sometimes people think that, you know, the only way to deal with these big differences between religions or around moral questions is to kind of face up to the difference directly. But I think often, as it were, sidling up to it is better and sidling up to it can be done by not facing Islam, but facing, you know, Leyla and Achmed and Mohammed with whom you don't talk about religion most of the time. You talk about soccer or you talk about rock music or whatever it is you have in common as an interest.”
Appiah’s statement is true that conversations open up ways to understand others. What I think more important though is that those conversations need to be followed by reflections and more conversations about power relationships, stereotypes, discriminations, marginalization, and what we can do to make things better. I really like the title of one program at Purdue’s Black Cultural Center. It is called “Difficult Dialogues.” Dialogues are often difficult and awkward, including when we discuss religions, but important to do if we to understand why religious conflicts happen and how we might avoid them and move to better understanding and cooperation among religious communities.
- American Studies Paul & Eslanda Robeson International Studies Award, American Studies (2012).
- Chester E. Eisinger Prize Award, American Studies Program, Purdue University (2012).
- Program, Purdue University (2012).
- International Peace Scholarship, Philanthropic Educational Organization (2009-2010, 2011-2012).
- Lynn Fellowship, Purdue University (2010-2011).
- Sari, Pamela K. (2012, April). “Purim and the Lord’s Politics: Transnational Relationship between Gospel Church in Java, Indonesia and Christian Institutions in the US.” Paper Presentation at the American Studies Symposium, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
- Sari, Pamela K. (2012, April). "Big Enough To Serve You, Small Enough To Know You": Transnational Ties between Gospel Church in Java, Indonesia and Christian Institutions in the US." Media presentation at the OIGP (Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Program) Spring Reception, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
- Sari, Pamela K. (2011, November). Transnational Ties between Megachurches in Java, Indonesia and Christian Institutions in the US. Paper presentation at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2011, Quebec, Canada.
- Sari, Pamela K. and Arido Laksono (2011, October). Teaching American Studies in Java, Indonesia. Workshop presentation at the American Studies Association Conference 2011, Baltimore, MD.