Social Media in Research on a Marginalized Identity: The Case of Atheism in Indonesia


  • Timo Duile Bonn University



Atheism, Indonesia, Online Participant Observation, Social media


Social media have played a major role as a place where one can meet and socialize with like-minded people, and this is especially important for marginalized groups. Atheists depict such a group in Indonesia where public expressions of atheism are punishable. Whereas social media often plays an important role in finding like-minded people, it is also potentially dangerous to reject religion on social media. In this research workshop, I argue that insights into the ways in which atheists use and engage in social media groups are crucial if one wants to know more about atheist ways of life in Indonesia. However, atheist groups are subject to internal fragmentation, as atheism in Indonesia is highly diverse, and, as a researcher, one can find oneself caught up in these internal struggles. Finally, I argue that social media research is an important addition to offline research, since it enables the researcher, especially when dealing with sensitive issues and identities, to directly enter and critically engage with the premises in which such identities are constituted and developed.

Author Biography

Timo Duile, Bonn University

Timo Duile is postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at Bonn University. After he obtained his PhD in Southeast Asian Studies with focus on indigeneity and concepts of nature in Kalimanatan, his current research focuses on relations between indigenous peoples, state, and economy, on political ideologies and social media, as well as on non-believers in Indonesia. For his research, he has carried out fieldwork in Kalimantan, Jakarta, and South Sulawesi, and was guest researcher at Tanjugpura University (Pontianak), the Indonesian Conference for Religion and Peace (Jakarta), as well as at Hasanuddin University (Makassar). 


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How to Cite

Duile, T. (2021). Social Media in Research on a Marginalized Identity: The Case of Atheism in Indonesia. Advances in Southeast Asian Studies, 14(1), 121–128.



Research Workshop