Indonesian Studies Working Papers series

The University of Sydney Indonesian Studies Working Papers series is an international online forum for the circulation of academic papers in English or Indonesian on Indonesia-related topics.

Papers for 2013

  • Number 16, July 2013: Mulih nDjowo: Repatriation and Nostalgia for Home Among the Javanese of Suriname

Papers for 2012

  • Number 15, November 2012: A False Start? Indonesian Business Associations as Democratic Actors in the Immediate Post-Soeharto era

Papers for 2011

Papers for 2010

Papers for 2009

Papers for 2008

Papers for 2007

  • Number 3, September 2007: Taking the Streets: Activism and Memory Work in Jakarta
  • Number 2, May 2007: Making the Best of What You’ve Got: Sex Work and Class Mobility in the Riau Islands
  • Number 1, March 2007: Don’t Forget to Remember Me: An Audiovisual Archive of Everyday Life in Indonesia in the 21st Century

Number 16, July 2013

Mulih nDjowo: Repatriation and Nostalgia for Home Among the Javanese of Suriname

Pamela Allen
University of Tasmania

Abstract:

The history of Javanese indentured immigrants in Suriname has been told by a number of historians. What has been less documented is the repatriation of over 1,000 Javanese Surinamese to Indonesia in 1954. A number of those repatriates are still alive, although those that can still remember the voyage from Suriname and the establishment of the settlement in Tongar in Sumatra are now quite elderly. In this paper I tell the stories of five of those repatriates, all of whom now live in Java. The paper makes a contribution to understandings of migration, diaspora and Javanese identity.

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Number 15, November 2012

A False Start? Indonesian Business Associations as Democratic Actors in the Immediate Post-Soeharto Era

Jacqueline Hicks
Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, New York, USA

Abstract:
Did Indonesian business associations (BAs) respond to the newly democratic environment in the immediate post-Soeharto period to become democratic actors? Judging by the standards set out in the academic literature on civil society and BAs’ contribution to democratisation, they did indeed show some initial signs of renewed invigoration. But the literature’s focus on the internal attributes of BAs to measure their democratic potential is incomplete. Adding a perspective which situates the development of BAs within their economic and political context, this paper shows how Indonesian BAs contributed little to the democratisation of the policy process. Rather, the signs of renewed activity in the BA sector represented a struggle among different sections of the BA community to secure a role in the highly corrupt government procurement process. Nevertheless, the paper concludes by pointing to several 'building blocks' of democratic potential resulting from this episode which may yet prove to support a democratic role for BAs, thereby exposing the process by which ‘uncivil society’ can become 'civil'.

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Number 14, March 2011

Counter-Trafficking and Migrant Labour Activism in Indonesia’s Periphery

Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons
The University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of successive counter-trafficking projects funded by USAID and implemented by the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center) and the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) nationally and in the Riau Islands. The paper argues that, while other international organizations were also influential in determining state policy and resourcing NGO activities in the first decade of the new millennium, the Solidarity Center/ICMC projects played a pivotal role in changing the way human trafficking was imagined and handled not only in the metropolitan core but also in key locations in Indonesia’s far-flung peripheries – in the process, transforming the way in which NGO activists have understood and responded to temporary labour migration.

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Number 13, October 2010

The Biggest Cock: Territoriality, Invulnerability and Honour amongst Jakarta’s Gangsters

Ian Wilson
Murdoch University

Abstract:
The magically imbued strongman, commonly known as a ‘fighting cock’ or jago, has been a recurrent figure throughout Indonesian history. While constituting a distinct sub-cultural group, the jago informs broader notions of Indonesian masculinity. A local powerbroker, criminal thug, rebel and charismatic leader, the jago’s authority is obtained and maintained through the embodiment of particular cultural ideals regarding male virility and prowess. Within the world of jago this power and authority is established via displays of martial skill, maintaining a volatile and violent sense of honor, virility in the form of polygamy and promiscuity, the pursuit of supernatural powers and the immunity from the law derived from their political connections. Drawing from fieldwork on ethnic militia and criminal gangs in East and Central Jakarta, this paper will examine the culture, politics and social construction of the jago in a Jakarta neighbourhood.

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Number 12, June 2010

What Makes an Activist? Three Indonesian Life Histories

Anton Lucas
Flinders Asia Centre, Flinders University

Abstract:
This study of the life histories of three Indonesian activists, Hardoyo (the survivor), Parakitri T Simbolan (the outsider) and Mohamad Sobary (the searcher) describes the ways these three individuals have responded to the different opportunities and challenges of their location in modern Indonesian history, and the ways in which they lived out their commitment to Indonesia and what it might be. It tells us much about the making of three very different types of Indonesian activists, illustrating the relationship between historical circumstances, personal experience, education, religious beliefs, and social activism which made them improvisers and innovators in their own social, cultural and political worlds.

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Number 11, February 2010

The Mutual Dependence of Madurese Migrants and Police Officers in Illegal Businesses in Samarinda

Gerben Nooteboom
University of Amsterdam

Abstract:
Relationships between police and criminal organisations in Indonesia can be closely knit and mutually beneficial. Some Madurese entrepreneurs and preman in East Kalimantan are involved in illegal activities. For them, it is crucial to maintain good relationships with police officers. These relationships offers the police access to a closed migrant community and helps them to control criminality. This paper shows that the mutual dependence of Madurese entrepreneurs and police officers not only provides direct financial and legal benefits to the parties involved, but also sometimes serves a higher goal of maintaining security and stability for society at large.

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Number 10, November 2009

Place in Indonesian Conversational Narrative

Dwi Noverini Djenar
University of Sydney

Abstract:
Studies on prototypical narratives commonly consider references to place as background material that gives details about the setting of a story. Although these studies recognise that such details are important, the ways in which place references interact with other parts of a story is seldom discussed in detail. This paper examines two Indonesian stories told within the context of casual conversation. I argue that more than mere background material, place is often what makes a story. Mentions of place evoke an association with people and objects. Furthermore, place stories constructed in interaction make possible the emergence of claims about identities.

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Number 9, July 2009

Constructing the polity of Sriwijaya in the 7th – 8th centuries: The view according to the inscriptions

Anton O. Zakharov
Institute for Oriental Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences

Abstract:
Despite Sriwijaya being one of the most important political entities in Southeast Asia during the 7th–8th centuries, little is known about the nature of the polity. By re-examining the major inscriptions of Sriwijaya, we can gain new insights into how it saw itself, and in particular, whether it is accurate to call Sriwijaya an ‘empire’, or a ‘state’, or just a large and complex ‘chiefdom’ controlling a limited area. The evidence indicates that the latter designation is probably the closest, but the conclusion very much depends on the analytical definitions used as a starting point. Through this reconsideration of the literature on Sriwijaya, we can gain insight into how states developed in Southeast Asia, and how they exercised claims to power.

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Number 8, March 2009

Local Elections and Party Politics in a Post-Conflict Area: The Pilkada in Maluku

Dirk Tomsa
University of Tasmania

Abstract:
This paper analyses the 2008 gubernatorial election in Maluku and puts its result into the broader context of the province’s post-conflict trajectory. It is argued that the main reasons behind the victory of incumbent governor Karel Ralahalu were his genuine popularity, his shrewdness in exploiting this popularity and his ability to develop efficient patronage networks amongst Maluku’s numerous organizational stakeholders. The paper also highlights the peaceful conduct of the election and the significance of the fact that key political and religious actors seem to have accepted that democratic elections are now the only legitimate means to distribute formal political power.

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Number 7, November 2008

Claiming Authority at the Edges of the State: Regional Autonomy and Local Politics in the West Kalimantan Borderlands

Michael Eilenberg
University of Roskilde

Abstract:
This paper examines state-local relations in the border region of West Kalimantan since decentralisation, with a focus on five ethnic Iban dominated subdistricts within the remote district of Kapuas Hulu, on the border of the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It tracks the fate of a political movement for a new district in this resource-rich reason, arguing that the borderlands can be seen as a critical site for exemplifying the changing dynamics of state-local interactions that Indonesia is experiencing in the wake of decentralisation.

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Number 6, August 2008

The Political Economy of Reform: Labour After Soeharto

Chris Manning
Australian National University

Abstract:
The dramatic changes in Indonesia's political and economic environment after 1998 brought to the fore tensions between economic and social policy that had been simmering for three decades under the government of president Soeharto. These strains were felt acutely, especially in areas where the interests of large disadvantaged social groups were seen to have been sacrificed in the quest for faster economic growth and crony business expansion. In several key areas where economic and social policy intersect, such as labour, agricultural policy and land rights, there has been a significant shift in favour of social groups disadvantaged during the New Order. This paper focuses on one such group, wage workers in the formal sector.

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Number 5, April 2008

States of uncertainty: resolving the illegal occupation of land in Kepulauan Riau

Nicholas Long
Deparment of Social Anthropology
University of Cambridge

Abstract:
The dispossession of local or indigenous populations by migrants is often attributed to social or cultural problems on the part of the locals, or ‘competitive advantages’ on the part of the migrants. This paper challenges that view through an ethnographic exposition of a land rights hearing in the Riau Archipelago. The case explores how parallel claims to ownership and residence are established through such diverse means as title deeds, forest clearance, kinship, and civil-administrative registration, and asks what happens when these parallel templates clash. The paper thus offers a fresh approach to thinking about dispossession, land rights and local bureaucracies.

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Number 4, January 2008

On a Roll: Pramoedya and the Postcolonial Transition

Keith Foulcher
The University of Sydney

Abstract:
The publication in 2004 of Menggelinding I, a collection of 58 articles, essays and short works of literature by Pramoedya Ananta Toer in the period between 1947 and 1956, illuminates an important chapter in the early history of post-colonial literature in Indonesia, as well as in Pramoedya’s own literary and intellectual biography. Most historians describe Pramoedya’s move into radical cultural politics as occurring after his visit to China in 1956, at about the same time LEKRA began to be more assertive in its cultural political stance. However a careful reading of these earlier sources – covering the Revolution and its immediate aftermath, Pramoedya’s visit to the Netherlands in 1953 and the polemics surrounding the so-called crisis in literature of the same year – suggests that there may be more continuity in Pramoedya’s development than is generally recognised, and that the lines of the LEKRA-non LEKRA polemics of the early 1960s were already being drawn in the early years of the post-independence period.

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Number 3, September 2007

Taking the Streets: Activism and Memory Work in Jakarta

Doreen Lee
Department of Anthropology, Cornell University

Abstract:
The discourse of public space in Indonesia contains both the anxieties and the hopes of the social classes affected by this idea of ‘public space’ and what it promises. This paper takes up the discourse of the street to analyse the ways that ideas of the street and urban subjectivity have shaped each other. Rather than analysing the historical development of city space at length, it examines the cultural practices of the Student Movement in the post-Soeharto era that take up the discourse of the street, and compares these to the inclination of most middle-class urbanites to impose boundaries against the masses.

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Number 2, May 2007

Making the Best of What You’ve Got: Sex Work and Class Mobility in the Riau Islands

Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons
The University of Sydney and the University of Wollongong

Abstract:
The islands of Batam, Bintan and Karimun on the Indonesian border with Singapore and Malaysia have an extensive sex industry which caters predominantly to foreign visitors. This paper explores the place of ‘sex as work’ for women involved in the industry and the opportunities for class mobility that sex work may present to them. We argue that these opportunities are the product of the Riau Islands’ particular spatiality, including a geographical proximity to Singapore and Malaysia, and a pattern of migration which has seen large numbers of temporary and long-term transmigrants from throughout the archipelago moving in and out of the islands in search of work. In this paper we explore these issues through the stories of two women, Lia and Ani, who – as a result of their marriages to foreign men – have moved out of the sex industry and into the lower middle class.

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Number 1, March 2007

Don’t Forget to Remember Me: An Audiovisual Archive of Everyday Life in Indonesia in the 21st Century

Henk Schulte Nordholt and Fridus Steijlen
KITLV – Leiden

Abstract:
This paper presents the outline of a new and ambitious project by KITLV Leiden and Offstream Filmmakers in Jakarta to document aspects of everyday life in Indonesia during the 21st century. The intention is to create an audio visual archive which consists of recordings made in eight different places throughout the Indonesian archipelago: Jakarta, Surabaya, Delanggu (Central Java), Payakumbuh (West Sumatra), Kawal (Island of Bintan), Sintang (West Kalimantan), Bittuang (Tana Toraja), and Ternate. Every four years recordings are made at the same spots in these places. The paper discusses some theoretical aspects of the quest for ''everyday life'' and its implications for the project.

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