The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

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To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Bring out your dead

By: Agung Parameswara - Posted on: November 20, 2015 | Culture & Life

In Indonesia, the remarkable ma’nene ritual reveals the Toraja ethnic group’s deep devotion to their deceased relatives

For the Toraja people, life very much revolves around death. This indigenous group is famed for its elaborate, sometimes weeks-long funeral rituals, which can often result in financial ruin for the family of the deceased. In fact, many Torajans are said to spend their lives saving for their deaths. Every three years, however, the dead make a rather spectacular reappearance in an August ceremony known as ma’nene, or the ritual of cleaning corpses. During these festivities, the corpses of deceased relatives are exhumed in order to wash them, groom them and dress them in new clothes. For the Toraja, ma’nene is a logical extension of their belief system, aluk todolo, which translates roughly to ‘way of the ancestors’.

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Makeover: Torajan men carry two mummies after the corpses have been dressed in new clothes in Pangala village, Toraja, South Sulawesi. Photo by Agung Parameswara

It is estimated that the Toraja population currently stands at about 650,000, with many of them living in a cluster of villages in Tana Toraja, a regency of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. Though many have converted to Christianity or Islam, their traditional beliefs remain visible during funerals and related festivities. Characterised by exceedingly strong ties to deceased relatives, aluk todolo dictates that the deceased remain a constant in their families’ lives. After passing away, they are kept in the family’s home, ceremonially fed and dressed until such time that the family can afford the costly funeral – a saving period that can last anything from a few days up to several years. The bodies are finally laid to rest in caskets that, depending on the region, are either inserted into holes dug into cliffs or hung from the cliff faces themselves.

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Carved in stone: tombs next to a road in Lo’Ko’Mata village. Photo by Agung Parameswara

During the ma’nene period, once the returned relatives have been groomed and dressed, they are walked around the village, following a route of straight lines that are connected with Hyang, a spiritual entity that moves only in straight lines. According to the aluk todolo belief system, one’s spirit must return to his or her home village, meaning that, traditionally, the Toraja were wary of travelling in fear of passing away far from home and being unable to return to their village. “We believe dead family members are still with their relatives, even if they died hundreds of years ago,” said Daniel Toding, a villager from Pangala, Tana Toraja. “This is our way of respecting and honouring our ancestors and loved ones.” 

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Guests of honour: men hold mummies during a ritual known as ma’nene. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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Blood brothers: Ari Titus, 37, holds the mummy of his brother Jefri. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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Resting place: A man climbs on bamboo ladders to access a tomb, which is known as a liang. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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Rock of ages: A Torajan man looks for the body of a family member inside a liang. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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Higher power: family members place a pair of sunglasses on the mummy of Yohanes Tampang. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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The body of Yohanes Tampang stands in front of some tombs. Photo by Agung Parameswara
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Traditional tongkonan houses, with their saddleback roofs, in South Sulawesi. Tongkonan are the ancestral homes of the Torajan people and they should always point north Photo by Agung Parameswara

Keep reading:
Taking the fall” – The child jockeys of Sumbawa island risk injury, even death, for cash and glory in traditional horse races