What is the Position of Acehnology in Southeast Asian Studies

 The study of social sciences has developed to social and cultural phenomena, which in the end, are drawn into science. This study not only wants to explore the epistemological aspects of the Aceh study but also presents several issues assembled in a narrative to emphasize that this study can be called a scientific field. In turn, the social sciences will show where the position of Acehnology is.

Anthropology is caused by many field research conducted by researchers in various regions of the earth. The emergence of sociological studies was because the early thinkers had a perspective on social phenomena in Europe, especially in Germany and France.

 Even the study of philosophy or mysticism always starts from objects that appear in the reality of human life. In other words, the emergence of logic or logos can not be separated from the aspect of the subject and object of study.

For example, sociology, this science is tasked with explaining social life.

In contrast, anthropology is tasked with studying humans, from their perspective to the culture surrounding them. However, there are also social studies studied from the aspect of area studies. Here, science is based on the region or the cardinal directions. 

Eastern studies are known as Orientalists, while Western studies are known as Occidentalism. Therefore, not a few scientific studies tend to use the cardinal directions, not least in the fields of sociology and anthropology. 

For example, the emerging field of Southeast Asian Sociology  is described as a social study in one area that is under the cardinal directions, namely the Southeast. The field of Southeast Asian Anthropology has emerged, presenting data on anthropologists’ research results in the Southeast Asian region. 

The field of study has received attention from scholars in the history of Southeast Asia. Thus, the field of social science cannot be separated from the object of study that is regional (regional).

However, no matter how great the expertise of sociologists and anthropologists, they still start from the study of a small community, both in urban and rural areas. However, the results of their study were directed at a more extensive area study.

 For example, Geertz’s study started in a village in Modjokuto, which later produced various theories from the study. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin’s study of political power in Malay also began with studies in several villages in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Joel S. Kahn’s study of the application of Marxist anthropological theories can be seen in his study in Padang, which lead to several further his works on the Malay world. Another example is Philip Taylor’s work on the study of Vietnam, which started from a few small areas in the country.

In the context of the study of Southeast Asia, it only later gave birth to a study of the ethnic groups that “dominate” this region. For example, there are studies on Chinese studies in Southeast Asia, Indian studies in Southeast Asia, and Malay studies in Southeast Asia. 

The study is directed to study the ins and outs of China, India, and Malays in Southeast Asia. This study is directed to multi-disciplines, from China, India, and Malay origins to their minds and cosmology. They are placed at the level of studies on ethnic groups. If China is the object of study, then what is studied is the history, culture, and beliefs of the Chinese in Southeast Asia. 

The same goes for Indian and Chinese studies. However, it is not easy to find studies on Western Influence in Southeast Asia, which seems to be because it is impossible to study two cardinal directions simultaneously. 

Because when people define the West, they imagine Europe and North America. While in Europe itself, there are still European studies based on the cardinal directions with the same characteristics.

Similarly, American studies with cardinal directions include North American and South American Studies. The two cardinal poles are very different in history, culture, and belief. Therefore, replacing the term “Western” cardinal direction with the term Colonial, which eventually gave birth to a study of the influence of colonialism in Southeast Asia.

 When the term Colonialism is used, the study is the result of the reproduction of Western scholarships such as democracy, nation-states, secularism, and pluralism which we want to see “whether there is” or “is it appropriate” with people’s lives in Southeast Asia.

However, studies on “ethnic groups” turned into national studies such as Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, and Singapore. Here the direction of the study is that studies tend to be directed at “who dominates” these countries. 

For example, the Indonesian study explores Indonesia more by looking at Java as its central focus. The study of Malaysia also looks at the context of the Malays. Thai Studies examines how Thai people build their country.

Similarly, the Singapore study studies the history of the Chinese building a small country in Southeast Asia. The study is more directed at the nation-state context (nation-state) studies. 

Finally, ethnic groups outside the orbit of power do not need to be studied in-depth because they are located on the periphery. For example, Malays in Thailand and Singapore have different perspectives from Malays in Malaysia because of majority and minority issues. 

The study of Malay here is a study of “resistance,” which can never escape the context of history, language, and belief. Likewise, the study of China and India in Malaysia is a study of the “resistance” of these two clans to the dominance of Malays in the Malaysian state.

In the context above, Aceh is, of course, very “small” in the study of “ethnic groups” and “nation-state.” Aceh is often only a “chapter” in various literature on “ethnic” and “nation-state” studies. It can be stated that the study of Aceh dominated pre-colonial and colonial history in Southeast Asia. 

In other words, if you want to write a history of Malay History and Nusantara History, it will be incomplete and comprehensive if it does not involve the study of Aceh in it. However, after the independence era, studies on Aceh have begun to dim, where Aceh is often presented as a “region” for Indonesia and “nostalgic” for Malaysia.

The construction of Acehnese studies is considered a minor ingredient in the writing of Indonesian studies. Thus, the construction of Aceh from Nanggroe (State) to the “region” causes Aceh’s role to be increasingly dwarfed in the study of social sciences and humanities.

Indonesian studies have often made Java the center of study sources which later gave birth to Javanology (Science of the ins and outs of Java). As for parts of Malaysia, which are eager to seek the historical legitimacy of their nation, they often turn their eyes to Aceh and other provinces on the island of Sumatra.

The post-colonial Aceh study is a study of resistance to the central government. Thus, studies of basic scientific concepts in the lives of the Acehnese are complicated to find. Even Acehnologists such as Reid and Lombard were more interested in writing Aceh in the 16th to 19th centuries AD. 

Interestingly, all Acehnese cultural and historical assets have been turned into a kind of historical knowledge study that is attempted to have an ideological spirit. Ibrahim Alfian’s study, for example, tries to discuss how the spirit of the Holy War was in Aceh. Nazaruddin Syamsuddin’s study also discusses the story of the Aceh war in the Japanese era. 

At the very least, the dominance of works about the war in Aceh has caused the aspects of Aceh’s philosophy to become dim and difficult to recognize by today’s young generation. Works such as those written by Naquib on Sheikh Hamzah Fansuri and Sheikh Nurdin Ar-Raniry are examples of the most comprehensive studies on Acehnese philosophy framed by Sufism which is not to mention the appearance of works such as those studied by Ahmad Daudy regarding the thoughts of Sheikh Nurdin Ar-Raniry. 

To this day, Nurdin Ar-Raniry’s works are still read by the people of Aceh, especially in rural areas. The study of philosophy and mysticism that formed the foundation of thought in Aceh, which had supported the study of Aceh, slowly faded away with the rise of Acehnese studies, which were filled with the spirit of war.

In this case, Acehnology wants to re-open the space for studying Aceh in several segments, as described above. However, when examined in more depth, how to conduct a study of Aceh? So the answer is, of course, through a multi-disciplinary approach that involves all branches of science.

 To see how to study Aceh, we first describe the topography and cultural landscape, and structure of Aceh’s language. Researchers who study Java will undoubtedly find it very easy to start their studies because the historical context and language are not so challenging to study. One can start from Central Java – Yogyakarta – Surakarta – Surabaya, then stop in Bali. The people of Jakarta and Sunda are entirely outside the orbit of Javanese identity.

 Because in Jakarta, it is known as the Betawi tribe and in West Java as the Sundanese. However, Aceh, which was initially a nanggroe (country/state), has its uniqueness, as will be found in this project which is presumably because geographically, he is at the door of the Straits of Melaka, where cultural contacts and language struggles are very diverse, so each individual in Aceh has a historical background.

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