Five UCLA graduate students pursued research in Indonesia in 2016 with funding from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies' Indonesian Studies Travel Grants.


Dimitar Anguelov

Infrastructure Development and Financing

During Summer 2016, with the help from this grant, I conducted research in Jakarta, Indonesia on infrastructure development and financing. In particular, I examined the development and financing of Jakarta’s three (concurrently developed) major rail projects: the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Sukarno-Hatta International Airport (SHIA) rail link. These projects are developed by three separate consortia comprising of a mix of state and provincially owned enterprises, international contractors, investors, and financial institutions. The MRT and LRT in particular have long and complex histories, marked by chronic delays owing to regulatory ambivalence, institutional bottlenecks, poor planning and decentralized and democratizing governance, while also being entangled in a web of competing politico-business interests. All of these factors reflect the complexities of Indonesia’s transforming (post-Suharto) political economy over the last two decades. A particular local and global conjuncture seems to have created the political-economic conditions enabling, but also exerting pressure on, the development of these projects today. All three of the rail projects have yet to acquire the necessary land, as residents contest compensation, and have competing ownership claims, complex tenure system and a lack of a modernized cadaster system (all remnants of the country’s post-colonial history). New regulation issued in 2015 on land acquisition and project financing as well as a new coordinating committee are supposed to overcome these issues; that remains to be seen as projects move forward and as I continue to investigate.


Sebastiaan Broere

Measuring Communist Minds? Cooperation between Indonesian and Dutch Psychologists during the 1970s

Throughout the 1970s, Indonesian political prisoners were subject to psychological testing in order to determine their level of commitment to communism. In 1978, Admiral Sudomo, commander of the state intelligence service, revealed that these tests were developed by Indonesian psychologists in consultation with psychologists from the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands. Sudomo’s statement caused a major controversy among Dutch academics. The Dutch University Newspaper discovered that throughout the proceeding years, the Catholic University in Nijmegen had been involved in a cooperation project—the so-called “KUN/2-project”—with several Indonesian psychologists whose names were mentioned in relation to the development of prison tests. Had Dutch psychologists cooperated with accomplices of the Soeharto regime? Up until now, this question has not been fully answered. The Indonesian Studies Travel Grant though the UCLA Center for Southeast Asia Studies enabled me to travel to the Netherlands and conduct research in the archives of the Catholic University in Nijmegen. I also interviewed several people. I am currently in the process of ordering and analyzing my source material and expect to finish a research paper within the next couple of months.

Ni Kadek Dita Cahyani
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Marine Biodiversity in the Coral Triangle

I am interested in studying marine biodiversity in Indonesia, situated in the center of marine biodiversity hotspot or the Coral Triangle. To protect and manage Indonesia’s valuable marine ecosystems, large-scale monitoring including the identification and documentation of small, cryptic, and undocumented species, is essential. However, standardized and cost-effective sampling methods needed to rapidly document and monitor marine biodiversity have previously not been available. My research focuses on assessing Indonesian marine biodiversity using Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure (ARMS) method. The aim of this research is studying the patterns of marine macro and microorganism diversity across Indonesian archipelago to provide a critical baseline for future assessment of the impact of global warming and climate change. Another particular interest of this study is examining changes in microbial diversity across the pollution gradient of Jakarta Bay to provide insights into the impacts of coastal pollution by using metagenomic techniques to document the functional diversity of microbial communities between locations. Receiving the travel grant allowed me to travel to Indonesia in summer 2016 and collect data from Bali, Aceh and Kepulauan Seribu in Jakarta for my Ph.D. research. During the fieldwork, I worked with so many amazing people and shared our passion for marine research and conservation. This grant does not only support my study in Indonesia but also provides enormous contribution for the education, science, and training activities for the Indonesian students and researchers.

Dian Tri Irawaty

Kampungs and Urban Redevelopment in Jakarta

A citywide redevelopment has been implemented in Jakarta from the late 1980s, throughout the 2000s and to this day. It has strongly affected residential communities, generally referred to as kampungs. A clear and single definition of the notion of kampung does not exist. Rather there are a variety of different definitions of kampung and meanings associated with it, which in turn imply different valuations and, in turn, various interventions in kampung as a living space, rehabilitation, eviction and land acquisition. This research elaborates the various understandings of kampung, particularly the shifting terminology from kampung into slums, what informs and motivates these shifts and their implications for the future of the kampungs.

Tyler Yamin

Balinese Gamelan

With support from the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, I spent summer 2016 in Bali, Indonesia, conducting fieldwork for my upcoming M.A. thesis. My research was conducted in and around the village of Kamasan, in the district of Klungkung. This was my second trip to Kamasan–my first was three years ago, during which I established a relationship with their gamelan ensemble and was accepted as the first (and only) formal student of their late musical director, I Wayan Sumendra. This travel grant gave me the opportunity to attend his cremation ceremony, during which I both cemented my ties with the local community and conducted interviews with his relatives and colleagues regarding the life of the gamelan he directed. These interviews and related research were exceedingly productive, and have generated enough information that I will be able to frame my M.A. thesis as the biography of an ostensibly inanimate object, and address concepts such as material agency and object personhood. In particular, interviews with the oldest living musicians in Kamasan revealed that the gamelan instruments had been built and re-built over the last century, and the discarded pieces had taken up a life of their own, as it were, in other gamelan ensembles. This revelation led me on a treasure hunt of sorts across Bali, locating these various pieces and sorting them into a web of material and temporal relationships that very acutely questions the idea that an object, such as a gamelan, can be defined as the sum of its material characteristics at any given point in time.




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Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2016