Desantara was born in the early era of reformation. At that time, Indonesia was undergoing a transition to change the political system and faced various socio-cultural challenges that followed. The initiators of Desantara, some of whom came from among those who received Islamic boarding school education and pursued cultural issues, saw the root of the problems faced by the Indonesian people when it was closely attached to cultural practices.
At the beginning of its establishment, the programs developed were directed at three aspects. First, trying to initiate and facilitate the reconciliation of Religion and Culture. Second, do Advocacy for cultural human rights. Third, raise issues related to Multicultural Women. The activities carried out at that time were cultural halaqah (meetings) in Islamic boarding schools and in a number of indigenous communities, community advocacy/assistance and also policy studies/regulations on religion and culture.
Other activities are also carried out in the form of public seminars, religious and cultural studies, discussions of multicultural women on campuses, and publishing various publications such as books, magazines (Desantara), bulletins (Diaspora, bitch). Currently, the Desantara program is developing to strengthen narratives in the digital world.
Desantara develops various trainings for the academic community on culture and multiculturalism, encourages advocacy and empowerment of minority groups such as the Kendeng community in Central Java and the Dayak Kenyah community in East Kalimantan, and strengthening public services for coastal communities on Kangean Island, East Java.
Building the independence of civil society, especially marginal civil society, in managing cultural, political, economic and environmental resources.
- Strengthening and empowering civil society in the social, political, and public policy systems in Indonesia.
- Mainstreaming the values of justice and equality for marginalized civil society groups.
- Promote culture as a source of ethical values and public behavior.