Size does (not) matter: A note from the Indonesian Islamic Boarding School (Pondok Pesantran)
In previous years, qualitative research on the internet has become a new trend. It is widely believed that a small context of the internet could portray a big picture of society from a small lens and grasp the unique pattern of each context at the same time. My research on the internet in the Indonesian Islamic boarding school (Pondok Pesantren) follows this logic. Throughout its history, Pondok Pesantren is well-known as an epitome of religious education in Indonesia. Its independence from the uniformized state-schooling system creates distinctive characteristics from one Pondok Pesantren to the others. This presentation is based on fieldwork at two Pondok Pesantren in Tasikmalaya, West Java, Indonesia, namely Miftahul Huda and Cipasung. While the first relies heavily on the traditional educational system and classical Islamic texts, the latter has a formal schooling system from kindergarten to the higher educational institutions. In this regard, this presentation aims to explore two main themes. Firstly, internet policy and the public sphere. As both of them have a different educational system, each institution applies different internet policy. In Cipasung, students are allowed to access mobile phone one day in a week and the internet access also available at computer laboratories in the school. Meanwhile, students in Miftahul Huda almost have no access to the internet. Nevertheless, students in both institutions perceive their education as an enlightening experience. Secondly, cultural production and cultural identity. As an institution that operates 24 hours, students are not only conditioned to absorb various knowledge and soft skills but also to form their own identity as the young Muslim in the modern era of Indonesia.
PhD Candidate, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies