Bigger than Ever, ASEAN Literary Festival to be Held in Jakarta's Old Town
Bringing together the finest writers, artists, and scholars from across Southeast Asia, the ASEAN Literary Festival 2017 will take place on 3rd to 6th August 2017 at the Old Batavia Complex in the capital city of Jakarta.
Entering its 4th edition this year, the event is also celebrated in conjunction with ASEAN@50, the 50th milestone Anniversary of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Besides the 10 ASEAN member countries, the festival will also draw participation from 20 other countries across Asia, Australia, America, Europe, and Africa.
According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism, the ASEAN Literary Festival is the first cultural event where all ASEAN countries, that share boundaries, similarities in culture and literature and a common history of having been colonized, as well as share the level of democratization and economic development, they all will gather in one literary festival as one community in literature and culture.
One of the founders and the program director of the festival, Okky Madasari, said ALF will carry the theme of "Beyond Imagination" this year, with a goal to make culture and literature a central part of life in ASEAN member countries.
"We are one big community," Okky said to Jakarta Globe adding that the festival also focuses on introducing the achievements of ASEAN writers to global audience. "Only culture and literature can genuinely unite us. "
Addressing issues currently affecting the region, discussions will revolve around topics of minority persecution, the rise of radicalism and extremism, and the deterioration of freedom of expression.
In addition to promoting freedom of speech, the ALF 2017 also aims to promote interest in reading and writing amongst the general population.
"This is an important role for ALF. Only literature and culture can create a true bond between us. Relying only on economic and political partnerships will leave 'ASEAN community' as a mere slogan, an empty rhetoric," she said.
This year, the ALF is fully supported by the Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Foreign Ministry.
As it does every year, ALF has a series of warm-up events in store, among them "Sastra Masuk Kampung" (Literature Goes to Kampung), a residency program to introduce literature to local communities. This year they will also have a national jamboree of literature.
There will also be art & cultural performances, a culinary bazaar, and other programs.
Discussions — arguably the highlight of the festival — will be centered on the topics of freedom of expression amid increasing radicalism and the constant threat of terrorism, and the central role social media plays in everyday life.
"Literature encourages people to exchange ideas and thoughts," she added.