Through a generous gift of Dr. Robert Lemelson, the Indonesian Studies Program, under the auspices of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies has been able to award fellowships to support research in Indonesian Studies.
The funding is available to all UCLA graduate students, at both the MA and Ph.D. levels. Fellowships were approximately $4,000. Proposals were available online, with a 2009 application deadline in February. The Center entertained any proposal that was centrally related to Indonesian Studies, but gave priority to those that sought support for fieldwork in Indonesia or archival research (in Indonesia or elsewhere). Funds may be used for research activities between April 1, 2009 and March 30, 2010.
In the past three decades, the world has seen a gradual decline in the number of autocratic regimes, and a concomitant rise in the number of democracies. However, many of these new democracies are institutionally weak, marked by deep social cleavages and contentious politics, and in some cases prone to civil war. Despite the presence of these and other potentially debilitating conditions, Indonesia has managed to create a relatively stable formal democracy in the years since its transition from authoritarianism. This project seeks to explore how this seemingly counterintuitive result has come about, emphasizing the central roles played by Indonesia’s shifting constellations of ethnic power relations, its pro-democracy social movements, and the institutional contexts in which they operate.
The subject of my project is the historical relationship between Ujung Kulon “national park” and Indonesian nationalism. I will review the evolution of protected area policy in Indonesia and the political agendas that have guided the development of Ujung Kulon as a national monument. I will discuss the contribution of Ujung Kulon to Indonesian national prestige in the international arena. In conclusion, I will suggest how the debates over national parks and conservation in Indonesia have been useful for articulating the characteristics of current Indonesian identity and the values to which Indonesians aspire.
The compulsory registration, detention, and punishment respectively experienced by Indonesian migrants in the U.S. following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and by accused and alleged Communist Party (PKI) members in 1965-1966 Indonesia are comparable acts of state-level terror of marginalized groups. Focusing on the impacts of these events upon the lives of Indonesians in the cities of Philadelphia and Surabaya, I plan to investigate their connection. As a Lemelson Graduate Fellow, my work will primarily involve gathering oral histories from former migrants as well as survivors of and witness to the PKI purge living in East Java. This data will aid my understanding of how these groups respectively experienced the 2003 Immigration and Naturalization Service Special Registration Program in the U.S. and Indonesia’s mid-20th Century anti-communist violence. It will also clarify the impact of Indonesian forms of state terror upon migrants’ conceptualizations of their lives in post-9/11 America. The oral histories will be supplemented by interviews with former and present staff members of the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya as well as extensive archival research. Presently in Surabaya as a Fulbright grantee and visiting lecturer in the Airlangga University Department of History, the Lemelson Graduate Fellowship will enable me to remain in Indonesia through December 2009 to complete this initial phase of my doctoral fieldwork. After returning to UCLA in 2010, I plan to begin writing my dissertation and will subsequently commence a second data collection phase among the Indonesian migrant community in Philadelphia.
Dedicating the Summer 2009 quarter to fieldwork in Indonesia is essential to my prospective doctoral research, provisionally entitled Faqirs Running Amok in Colonial Southeast Asia: Orality, ‘Internal’ History and Saint-Making. The Lemelson Fellowship will support my efforts to: access ‘oral literature’ through extended visits to various shrine libraries and bazaars, and record oral histories through interviews with diverse transmitters of saintly traditions. Interviews will help me assess the historical value of hagiographies, first-hand accounts of dreams or visions, and traditions of fantasy and hearsay (circulating stories), through their didactic functions within the worlds of narrators. Interview data will support one of the preoccupations of my research: accessing an ‘internal’ history of saints in the colonial Malay world, in terms of how devotees' perceptions of their saints differed from certain colonial understandings of the ‘faqir problem.’ Visits to shrine libraries and bazaars constitute another preoccupation of my research. Contrary to the notion shared by some historians of Islamic printing, I hope that my fieldwork will add that numerous Sufi elders in Southeast Asia have not only been able to use print technologies but also been able to re-entrench their authority within writing. I look upon my trip as an opportunity to understand the circumstances under which twentieth and twenty-first century hagiographies on colonial Muslim saints have been produced and consumed. Through my fieldwork, I hope to continue a pattern within certain circles of scholarship which challenges the neglect of post-medieval Sufi literature. The histories of story-telling, madness, magic and healing which make up my research are not ones that have received much scholarly attention in the discipline of history as a whole, let alone in the history of Southeast Asian Sufism.
In this project, I examine whether and how administrative unit boundary changes implemented under decentralization influence the level of ethnic violence in Indonesia. In my attempt to explain the spatial and temporal distribution of violence in Indonesia, I shift attention away from national politics in Jakarta, focus instead on politics at the districts, and employ both statistical and qualitative methods. My study lies at the intersection of decentralization, ethnic politics, and conflict studies. I hope to contribute to these literatures by identifying ways and conditions under which boundary change produces more violence, explaining why ethnic violence occurred, and providing insights on how decentralization manages ethnic tension in plural societies.
Kim Twarog is studying the use of traditional Indonesian dance as a healing tool for tsunami survivors in Aceh, Indonesia. She will be using the Lemelson funds to travel to the University of Melbourne and Monash University in Australia to examine visual, audio and textual materials pertaining to traditional Indonesian dance. Monash University houses one of the most extensive collections of Acehnese performing arts materials. In addition to accessing these resources, Kim will also benefit from meetings with Professor Margaret Kartomi, who has published widely about Acehnese dance and music, and has recently begun to investigate how Acehnese performing arts have been affected by the 2004 tsunami. Visiting the Asian Institute and the Aceh Research Training Institute (ARTI), located at the University of Melbourne, will also significantly enhance Kim’s understanding of the specific effects of the tsunami upon Acehnese culture and society.
Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2009
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