Reviving the World’s Maritime Culture through Spice Route as World Common Heritage

The global spice trade in Asia through the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean which connects three major continents (Asia, Africa, Europe), has left significant traces of civilization. In the course of history, Indonesia has played a significant role in the world economy due to its strategic position in one of the busiest maritime routes in the world. Its strategic location connects East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East to Europe. Southeast Asia is also the source of sought-after and most valuable commodity: spices. It is estimated that in the course of time and on a worldwide scale, 400-500 plant species have been used as spice. For Southeast Asia, the number is close to 275 species (Prosea, 1999). No commodity has played a more pivotal role in the development of modern civilization than the spices (Parry, 1969; Rosengarten, 1973). So indispensable were spices, it had influenced the world’s politics, economy, and culture. Inevitably, heavy traffic from East Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Europe, and vice versa, has transformed into a means of cultural exchange and intercultural understanding that brought together various ideas, concepts, knowledge, and experience, between people across nations. This maritime cultural heritage in the footsteps of global commerce has become increasingly important to be addressed.  

Program Positioning

INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON SPICE ROUTE (IFSR) is an annual forum that broadens the opportunities for cross-border and cross-cultural dialogues in revisiting the maritime culture based on the Spice Route as a common heritage (both natural and cultural), particularly in Asia.


  • To strengthen friendship and close cooperation between Indonesia and Asian countries (and beyond) with common heritage;
  • To provide a platform for knowledge-exchange and intercultural understanding through international-scale collaboration programs.

Discussion Themes

  • Roots of Maritime Culture
  • Significance and Phytogeography of Spices
  • Maritime Culture – Social / Cultural / Economic Aspects of Spice Trade
  • Maritime Network, State and Social Formation 
  • Human Adaptation
    • Climate Change and Natural Disasters
    • Maritime Technology
    • Resource Empowerment – Challenges in Protecting Natural and Cultural Heritage

DAY 1 : Tuesday, 19 March

Keynote Address:  Dr. Hassan Wirajuda

Public Lecture: Prof. Anthony Reid

Public Talks 1: “An Overview of Maritime History and Spice Trading in Southeast Asia”

Public Talks 2: “The Roots of Maritime Culture”

Public Talks 3 & 4: “Social Formation”

Sharing Sessions: “Cerita Gelap di Balik Jalur Rempah: Para Bajak Laut, Budak Belian, Gundik dan Pelacur”

DAY 2 : Wednesday, 20 March

Public Lecture: Prof. Dr. Susanto Zuhdi

Public Talks 5 – 10: “Maritime Network and State Formation”

Book Discussion: “Mataram”  by Tony Reid

Sharing Sessions: “Rempah-Rempah dan Kisah Erotis”

DAY 3 : Thursday, 21 March

Public Lecture: Prof. Dr. Singgih Tri Sulistyono

Public Talks 11: “Maritime Technology: From the Past to the Future”

Public Talks 12: “Human Adaptation on Climate Change and Natural Disasters”

Public Talks 13: “Tracing the History and Development on the Law of the Sea”

Public Talks 14: “Government Talk: Realizing Indonesia’s Vision as the World’s Maritime Corridor”

Sharing Sessions: “Bumiku Berubah: Bersahabat dengan Bencana”

DAY 4 : Friday, 22 March

Public Lecture: Prof. Drs. Imam Buchori Zainuddin – “Are We Indonesian Creative?”

Sharing Sessions: “Menguak Jejak Rempah Nusantara”

DAY 5 : Saturday, 23 March

Sharing Sessions 6: “Jelajah Negeri Rempah: Jalan-jalan dan Makan-makan!”

Book Launching: “Kisah Negeri-Negeri di Bawah Angin” by Negeri Rempah Foundation

Cooks and Talks: “Obrolan Dapur Rempah”

DAY 6 : Sunday, 24 March

Museum Excursion: Museum Kemaritiman IPC, Jakarta Utara

Closing Session: “Nenek Moyangku Orang Pelaut!”

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