05 Juli 2008


ATL actually started from a project named Proyek Tradisi Lisan Nusantara (PLTN) or Indonesian Oral Traditions Project (OTP) in 1992. It was a collaborative work between the Dutch and the Indonesian governments with the support of The Ford Foundation, whose goal was to publicize and publish texts which were the outcome of oral traditions transcription. The project advanced, and three approaches were developed, i.e. science, documentation, and publication or performance.

The project continued, and an activity of a larger scope, i.e. “The International Seminar and Festival of Indonesian Oral Traditions,” was held at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta, on December 9 – 11, 1993. The establishment of a permanent institution as a substitute for PLTN was agreed, which was later named Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan (ATL) or Oral Traditions Association.
After December 11, 1993 was agreed as the date of its establishment, this organization started to organize itself. As a new institution, its committee members worked hard in preparing its apparatuses, by having dialogues with partners, negotiating with donor institutions, and drafting the organization’s programs among others. At this stage, the ATL committee members managed to convince the related parties that regardless of the fact that nowadays writing and technology have become the basis for everything, the role that oral traditions play is still significant.
Vision and Mission
ATL is a prominent institution whose work focuses on making oral traditions a source of wisdom and a means to build a culture which is pluralistic in character. Consequently, ATL works as a bridge that links oral traditions with society, both the academic society and the general public.
The Establishment of ATL
We were then a new generation without a “batch,” trying to exist, as it were, between the devil and the blue sea. On the one hand, we are faculty members and researchers dealing with academic matters; on the other hand, we deal with the NGO world, giving advocacy for the keepers, supporters, and owners of oral traditions. Our concern is not to cry over oral traditions as a cultural treasure that is dying out. Instead, it is the call of our conscience to study, document, and defend the right to live of their adherents in order to keep on expressing their cultural heritage. From the beginning, our concern is that “oral traditions may have to face extinction, but if death is unavoidable, it has to die naturally, not because of an act of murder.” Thus, this is where we came from, and to this very place we will return. Then we started to work gradually in parallel with the development of research of culture in Indonesia until now.
We also formulated a concept in order to affirm the vision and mission of our organization. The concept developed along with our researchers’ exploration in applying methodologies and approaches. In the beginning of our studies, we wanted to integrate textual with contextual approaches. It turned out that this integration was not an easy academic task. To overcome the problem, we decided to include social and religious content, which means that we have to use other approaches, i.e. sociological and anthropological approaches. With the combination of all these approaches, we consider oral traditions as the expression of their adherent communities. As a social expression, oral traditions contain the social and religious aspects of the community’s life, e.g. ideology, values, philosophy of life, etc. Therefore, as our organization advanced, we maintain that oral traditions should be not only cultural treasure used as a means of recreation but also a “socio-cultural event.”
Some of the cultural events that ATL has held are in practice linked to social events. In order to respond to our friends in other regions outside Jakarta, we do not mind doing re-orientation and re-positioning. We do that as ATL continued to handle researches with an action program. We try to think more realistically, so that in carrying out our action program we act more as a mediator between those who have the power and those in the lower position, i.e. the practitioners of the traditions. Without realizing it, we were inspired by our experiences on the field (probably enhanced by our – so called – “flying hours”) so that we were bold enough to construct a vision that can accommodate our friends’ aspirations, i.e.: “ATL becomes a prominent institution in making oral traditions a source of wisdoms and a means to build a culture that is pluralistic in character,” according to the social reality in Indonesia.
An Unflagging Journey
When we had no permanent places and had to move several times, we were not a legal entity; therefore, we could not receive grants from our partners overseas directly. However, with the courtesy of Yayasan Obor Indonesia, we could receive grants through them under their guidance and based on their trust on us. This way, we could “breathe” for a moment and continue our programs. Despite the committee members’ tight schedules, most of whom were studying abroad, ATL was trying to gain a legal entity status as a non-profit foundation. It is through this foundation that ATL could “spread its wings” and receive grants or independent bequests directly from international organizations.
Considering that ATL programs were expanding and that we needed a permanent secretariat which is quite spacious and accessible from all parts of Jakarta, we decided to use a simple house in the Manggarai area, on Jl. Menteng Wadas Timur No. 8. South Jakarta. This is the place where we started working, and it is here that we started our meaningful work. From this place we built our networks to all parts of Indonesia. It is also from this place that we have gotten partners in twenty capitals of provinces in Indonesia, so that we were able to build cooperation with the resource persons and proponents of oral traditions.
  1. To hold various activities involving researchers, observers, people interested in oral traditions, and those who support oral traditions, in order to develop their potentials.
  2. To appreciate and introduce the diversity of our cultural heritage, especially oral traditions, using three approaches, i.e. science / education, documentation, and performance, including its publications.
  3. To organize accompanying programs (applied programs) preceded by research / deep observation in order to develop oral traditions and their supporting communities by means of conservation activities, reservation, preservation, and revitalization.
  4. To work on the re-functioning of certain oral traditions among communities, both in their original forms and in their modified or transformed forms.
  5. To assist the government and the general public by providing services in information, documentation, publication, research, and the advancement of oral traditions in order to create a network of information formed among various individuals and institutions.
Training Center
In improving the quality of our human resources, we have tried to organize concrete activities in the form of training. In the beginning it was attended by teaching staff from various universities, both private and state ones, which have language, art, and literature departments. The concept and the form of the training used to be conventional, but it underwent quite a lot of changes. In reality, reaching the target for each of the abovementioned forms is not easy. Therefore, we wanted to combine both forms with a new proportion of 50% - 50% in the training. In this last period, we managed to maintain our relationship with the alumni of the previous training by holding a workshop on understanding pluralism through the studies of oral traditions in Bogor in 2001.
We have the impression that the medium of training is still needed by our friends in order to be more concerned with oral traditions in the regions. Moreover, with the establishment of the Regional Autonomy, this is the right medium considering that the problem that we have been working on is very specific and needs a conceptual management. Until now universities in other provinces have not touched upon this issue, probably because people still doubt whether oral traditions really have academic significance.
Our Supporters
When ATL was established, we had the support of those interested in oral traditions, either as individuals or institutions, among others:
  • Prof. Dr. Achdiati (as dean of The Faculty of Letters/Fakultas Sastra UI and as an individual)
  • Prof. Dr. Edi Sedyawati (Directorat General of the Department of Education and Culture, later substituted by Dr. I G N Anom, Prof. Dr. Sri Hastanto, and Dr. Mukhlis PaEni)
  • Prof. Dr. Taufik Abdullah (Senior Researcher at LIPI or the Indonesian Institute of Science)
  • Dr. Jakob Oetama (Kompas-Gramedia Group)
  • Dr. Hasan Alwi (Head of the Language Center, later substituted by Dr. Dendy Sugono)
  • Mr. Alan Feinstein (Program Officer of The Ford Foundation, later substituted by Dr. Jennifer Lindsay and Mr. Phillip Yampolsky)
  • Dr. Roger Tol (KITLV – Leiden and Jakarta)
  • Mr. Mochtar Lubis (Head of Yayasan Obor Indonesia, later substituted by Mrs. Kartini Nurdin)
  • Mr. John McGlynn (Yayasan Lontar), and
  • The Japan Foundation
Certainly, we cannot mention our contributors one by one although every one is very important. Nonetheless, the researchers and writers of the book “Series on Indonesian Oral Traditions” are the inseparable part of our organization and also the “pioneers” in making oral traditions familiar to our society in their written form. These are actually the very people who introduced oral traditions to the academic world all over Indonesia. They are the ones that conducted the transfer of knowledge from the former to the subsequent generations. We can say this because all of the publications of “Series on Indonesian Oral Traditions,” as the outcome of collaboration between ATL and Yayasan Obor Indonesia, have been sent to all studies centers, whose field of studies is Indonesia, both within and outside the country.
As matter of fact, the “spearhead” of the ATL’s success is the speakers or storytellers, the shamans, the syeh, the datuk, and tribal elders from various regions in Indonesia. Nevertheless, we have to express our gratitude to the researchers and resource persons who helped ATL in designing and carrying out our revitalization and accompanying programs, who have gone before us, i.e. Drs. M. Hamidi, M. Hum (Jakarta), Dr. Tabir Sitepu (Medan), Prof. Dr. Suripan Sadi Hutomo (Surabaya), Dr. Aminuddin (Malang), Dr. Gade Ismail (Nangroe Aceh Darussalam), and Prof. Dr. Mursal Esten (Padang Panjang). In addition, we would like to express our most sincere gratitude to cultural experts and artists, such as the late B.M. Syamsuddin (Pekanbaru), Raja Hamzah Yunus (Penyengat Island), and Tengku M. Atan Rahman (a Mak Yong artist from East Bintan).
1. Researches
Training for Young Researchers, in cooperation with the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) and the then Department of Education and Culture (now the Department of Education and the Department of Culture and Tourism), Research based on selection and special invitation for experienced researchers, Research Accompaniment was conducted for special cases of Suku Laut (the Sea Tribe) in Riau, the Dayak Community in West Kalimantan, cultural research in East Timor (Timor Leste), Gayo (Aceh), Melayu (the Riau Archipleago), Betawi (DKI Jakarta), Lombok (NTB), and Banjar (South Kalimantan).
2. Seminar
Apart from discussions, workshops, and non-routine scientific meetings, ATL also organizes a routine activity once in every three years since 1993, i.e. the International Seminar and Festival of Indonesian Oral Traditions. As a part of the seminar, we launch books published by ATL in the corresponding period and put into performance oral traditions that appear in that publication, along with other oral traditions whose speakers we intentionally invite to support our seminar.
3. Kurikulum Muatan Lokal (MULOK) / Local Content Curriculum
a. In 1995, ATL tried to prepare materials for art teachers and instructors at Junior High School level in Jakarta, in cooperation with the Regional Office of the Department of Education and Culture and the Private University Consultative Board.
  1. In 1997, ATL held a Local Content Seminar (Seminar MULOK) and prepared local content materials for elementary schools for the Pontianak region in West Kalimantan, in cooperation with the Institute of Dayakology and the Regional Office of the Department of Education and Culture in West Kalimantan.
  2. Since 1994, ATL has collaborated with the Language Center in organizing preparation activities for the writing of local content for students of elementary schools up to high schools.
4. The Mapping of Indonesian Regional Languages in Oral Traditions and Art in 27 Provinces
5. Revitalization
a. Lombok
b. Riau Kepulauan
c. Sumatera Barat
d. Nias
e. Banjar (South Kalimantan)
f. Betawi (DKI Jakarta)
6. Documentation
a. Voice Cassettes
c. Photos, Slides
7 .Tekst
8. Floppy Disks
9. Photos
10. Publications
a. Books
Arief, Abuhuraerah, dan Zainuddin Hakim. Sinrikna Kappalak Tallumbutua. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Estern, Mursal. 1993. Struktur Sastra Lisan Kerinci. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Hutomo, Suripan Sadi. 1993. Pantun Kentrung. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Suryadi (ed.). 1993. Rebab Pesisir Selatan: Zamzami dan Marlaini. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Suryadi (ed.). 1993. Dendang Pauah: Cerita Orang Lubuk Sikaping. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Probonegoro, Ninuk Kleden. 1996. Teater Lenong Betawi. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Rusyana, Yus. 1996. Tuturan Tentang Pencak Silat dalam Tradisi Lisan Sunda. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.
Udin, Syamsuddin. 1996. Rebab Pesisir Selatan: Malin Kundang. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Taum, Yoseph Yapi. 1997. Kisah Wato Wele-Lia Nurat: dalam Tradisi Puisi Lisan Flores Timur. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Tol, Roger: (Penyunting). 1997. Adat-Istiadat Orang Rembong. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.MPSS, Pudentia. (ed.). 1998. Metode Kajian Tradisi Lisan. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Momersteeg, Adrian, dkk. (ed.). 1999. Punu Narge: Cerita dari Soa Flores. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.
Dharmojo. 2000. Penuturan Cerita Waropen Irian Jaya. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.
Muhadjir. 2000. Bahasa Betawi Sejarah dan Perkembangannya. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Melalatoa, M. Junus. 2001. Didong: Pentas Kreatifitas Gayo. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.Helene, Bouvier. 2002. Lebur ! Seni Musik dan Pertunjukan dalam Masyarakat Madura. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia.
Kemp, Herman C: (Penyunting). 2004. Oral Traditions of Southeast Asia and Oceania: A Bibliography. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia, KITLV Jakarta, Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan. PaEni, Mukhlis. 2005. Nawa-Nawa Patuju (Berpikir Positif) Nilai Budaya dalam Etos Kerja Bugis. Jakarta: Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan, Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata.PaEni, Mukhlis dan Pudentia MPSS (eds.). 2005. Bunga Rampai Budaya Berpikir Positif Suku-Suku Bangsa. Jakarta: Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata, Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan. Nurhan, Kenedi (ed.). 2008. Budaya Berpikir Positif Suku-suku Bangsa II. Jakarta: Dep.Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata RI, Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan (ATL). PaEni, Mukhlis dan Pudentia MPSS (ed.). 2008. Maestro Seni Tradisi. Jakarta: Dep.Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata RI, Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan (ATL).
b. The ATL Journal
From March 1995 to 2001, ATL published ATL Newsletter, containing information or news on ATL and scientific articles on oral traditions studies. In this publication, Roger Tol and Herman C. Kemp from the KITLV, Leiden, were especially in charge of the rubric “The Latest Publications of South East Asia and Oceanic Oral Traditions.” Since December 2002, the ATL Newsletter was changed into the ATL Journal in order to improve its quality and to specialize in scientific studies.
c. Films
Mak Yong, Traditional Performance from Bintan Islands.
(Indok ATL)

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