• Photo: Sam Nowak

  • Photo: Jaehyeon Park

  • Photo: Triwi Harjito

  • Photo: Aji Anggoro

  • Photo: Otto Stuparitz

  • Photo: Zezen Mutaqin

  • Photo: Dita Cahyani

In 2018, UCLA graduate students traveled to Indonesia to pursue research sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies' Indonesian Studies Travel Grants.

Aji Anggoro
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Understanding the Pattern of Marine Biodiversity

Preserving marine biodiversity and achieving sustainability of ecosystem services in Indonesia face many challenges. Some challenges are obvious, like the growth of human populations and the dependency on natural resources for economic development. However, others are less obvious such as the inability to effectively monitor ecosystems across all levels of taxonomic diversity (i.e. microscopic bacteria to metazoan macrofauna). The latter have prevented us from understanding how human activities truly impact organismal communities and ecosystems and from identifying taxa most sensitive to change. On top of that, inadequate local capacities to develop sound biodiversity research have become a major impediment preventing conservation action implemented in most strategic ways.

The Indonesian Studies Summer Travel Grant has particularly contributed to my efforts of doing marine biodiversity research in Indonesia, by largely supporting travel costs and subsidized field expenses. The research, which uses ARMS (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure), aims to understand pattern of marine biodiversity from microscopic bacteria to metazoan macrofauna in many areas across Indonesia. This research has allowed me and my team to build a catalogue and an inventory of species existed in the areas and to forecast which taxa might be susceptible to current and future threats. The grant has also helped me to contribute in arranging training on biodiversity data analysis in the city of Semarang, Central Java on the summer of 2018.

Dita Cahyani
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Empowering Marine Research in Indonesia

Marine research in Indonesia is expanding because of the importance of Indonesian position as the center of marine biodiversity or the Coral Triangle. Assessing marine biodiversity is one of the most critical research questions to be asked and with a revolution in a molecular technique, today, a high-throughput sequencing (HTS) technology allows detection of thousands of DNA species simultaneously from community samples such as soil and water. By collecting samples across Indonesia, our team can focus on documenting small, cryptic marine biodiversity. To date, I have collected more than 17 million DNA sequences representing 24,000 Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs), a proxy for “species” based on DNA sequence data. This year, we continue the sampling activities to answer the following question: what happened in the reef community structure over time during the deployment?

Apart from my interest in conducting research in Indonesia, I also interested in promoting scientific research and working from the educational side. This year, I had an opportunity to speak about my research and marine research in Indonesia in two different universities in the country. This activity is the best way to share the knowledge with the broader audience, including the faculty members. I received a lot of positive feedback and I hope these talks will open many great ideas for research in Indonesia and more possible collaborations in the future.

Triwi Harjito
World Arts & Cultures / Dance

Intercultural and Transnational Collaboration in Dance

The summer travel grant from the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies enabled me to make great strides in developing the preliminary framework for my dissertation research as I enter my second year of doctoral study. As part of my research activities, I traveled to several key cities in central and west Java, including Solo, Yogyakarta and Jakarta.

The emergence of new dance styles, vocabularies and choreographies that engage with classical, folk, indigenous, contemporary and popular forms is a key area of research interest, and the festivals and performances that I attended in Indonesia during the summer provided an abundance of material to unpack and analyze. Focusing my examination on the process of intercultural and transnational collaboration and whether such intersections offer conditions and opportunities for agency and change, I employ a cross-disciplinary approach that also takes into consideration the cultural, economic, political and social factors that influence performance in Indonesia.

Zezen Zaenal Mutaqin

Indo-Malay Manuscripts of Islamic Jurisprudence

When awarded the travel grant by UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, I had two main purposes in mind when embarking to Indonesia during Summer 2018. First, I have to meet and interview several people like Ginanjar Sa’ban, Oman Faturahman, Nida Fadlan and Zainul Milal who have expertise on collecting and preserving Southeast Asian ‘classical’ manuscripts. Second, if possible, I have to collect as many manuscripts as possible for further study. I consider my trip last summer as an initial step of a long-term side project to integrating Indo-Malay Islamic classical literature into the center of international law discourses, especially in its intersection with Islamic jurisprudence. The reason for this is obvious: this literature has been ignored or seen as irrelevant for this study for a long time.

I managed to see those people and interviewed them. Nida Fadlan and Prof. Oman Fathurahman are at Center for the study of Islam and Society, UIN Jakarta and Zainul Milal and Ginanjar Sa’ban, are at Islam Nusantara Center. Seeing and interviewing them was a great joy for me because they brought a rich and thick historical analysis and information of the 17th, 18th and 19th century of Indo-Malay Islamic literature and manuscripts. They also generously gave me access to four volumes of the catalog of Islamic Southeast Asian literature, published by Sophia University, Japan. Meanwhile, my visit to Islam Nusantara Center was also fruitful. From them, I collected 259 digitalized manuscripts written by Indo-Malay scholars from as early as the 18th century in various disciplines including jurisprudence, Sufism, astronomy, Quranic and hadith studies, Arabic grammar as well as poetry. Ginanjar pointed out to me a two important printed manuscripts, Irshād al-Sarī, a volume containing a collection of books written by Hashim al-Ash’arī (founder of Nahdlatul Ulama) and Naṣihat al-Muslimīn wa Tadhkirat al-Mu’minīn, written by ‘Abd al-Ṣamad al-Falimbanī, a prominent scholar from 17th century Palembang, South Sumatra. With his help, I was able to collect those books along with some other documents. With rich materials in hand, now it is the time for me to sort and select the most relevant ones for further analysis.

Sam Nowak

The Rise of Ride-Hailing Companies in Jakarta

With the support of the 2018 Indonesian Studies Travel Grant, I conducted preliminary research for my dissertation project, which examines the rise of ride-hailing companies like Go-Jek and Grab in Jakarta. Within just three years, these companies have grown to be an integral part of Indonesia’s urban transportation system, with Go-Jek alone now completing over 35 orders per second, around 3 million per day. My dissertation research seeks to understand how different actors (drivers, users, regulators, etc.) are implicated in the rise of RHCs, and their impact on the changing urban transportation system in Jakarta. This summer, I focused on answering the question: How do everyday users and drivers of ride-hailing applications in Jakarta navigate, subvert, contest, or facilitate the emergence of app-based transportation in Jakarta? To answer this question, I spent four weeks in Jakarta making contacts with Go-Jek and Grab drivers, and driver organizations such as Tekab Indonesia, a network of online drivers who have organized for self-defense and solidarity, as they have become the target of robberies and assault on the streets of Jakarta. In speaking with these types of organizations, I learned that drivers are increasingly using digital media to organize among themselves, developing online support groups to provide loans to one another for vehicle repairs, and protect one another from robberies, and act as first responders for accidents. This preliminary research put me in contact with key informants and contacts within the driver community, which will allow me to begin in-depth ethnographic research immediately upon my return to Indonesia in January 2019.

Additionally, I attended a six-week intensive language program at the BIPA Pusat Bahasa at Ngurah Rai University in Bali, Indonesia. This intensive program significantly advanced my Indonesian language skills, giving me the opportunity to practice interviewing drivers in Indonesian and the proficiency I need to conduct my dissertation research.

Jaehyeon Park
Urban Planning

The Complexity of Land Tenure Security for Slum Upgrading

Based on my previous fieldwork on community-scale on-site slum upgrading and resettlement in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, Central Java, I aimed to investigate the ways in which the security of land tenure of riverbank slums help or hinder the search for improvement solutions. Since land ownership or tenure security is one of the most critical factors determining targets within the national river normalization program for flood mitigation, this year’s summer fieldwork was an excellent opportunity to explore the complexity of land tenure security of slums in Indonesia. Based at Gadjah Mada University, I visited riverbank slum communities on different land tenure status: one on wedi kengser (river sediment land in Javanese) in Yogyakarta, one on tanah kas desa (village head’s land) in Sleman, and one on tanah negara (state land) in Surakarta. Different land approaches to river normalization have been taken in these three sites. In the Yogyakarta case, the riverbank residents voluntarily made room for an inspection road by partially dismantling their houses, which led to the cadaster of unregistered river sediment land and granted building rights from the governor’s office, called kekancingan which is equivalent to building right titles (SHGB). While the state riverbank land was taken over by the government and the residents were relocated to a government-subsidized housing with freehold titles (SHM) in a nearby city in the Surakarta case, customary land lease agreements are still at the heart of relocation in the Sleman case. Based on this observation, I will continue to investigate the relationship between land types and sociopolitical settings within the land titling above.

During my fieldwork in Central Java, I was also able to join a workshop of local architects on slums in Jakarta. The presentations from Rujak Center for Urban Studies, Urban Poor Consortium, and Architecture Sans Frontières Indonesia, all of which are working for riverbank and coastal slum communities under eviction threats from flood mitigation, provided me with insight to a more extensive background of the challenges that slum communities face regarding the complexity of land tenure security in the country.

Otto Stuparitz

Java Jazz: Politics of Preservation and Circuits of Performance

Building upon my project from summer 2018, where I focused on a number of Indonesian grassroots jazz archives featuring jazz and popular music recordings from the 1930s and 1940s, I continued my work this summer with Arsip Jazz Indonesia (the Indonesian Jazz Archive) and went to the library of Leiden University, with a sponsorship from the KITLV (Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies). As part of my dissertation project, I traveled to the Netherlands to consult the Leiden archives, containing recordings, newspaper articles, and scholarly materials not yet within the purview of the grassroots archives. Under the tentative heading of Java Jazz: Politics of Preservation and Circuits of Performance, I examine the ways in which jazz in Indonesia has been remembered, its history persevered, and how this information contributes to the contemporary community. I continue my project as a decolonial project, requiring a specific politics and ethics of doing, as I offer my findings to the grassroots archives and community members, contributing to the group’s knowledge and collections. My research continues to show how the resurfacing of historically significant recordings has helped reconstruct forgotten aspects of early Indonesian culture and society, especially Indonesian pathways towards modernization and contributions of minority groups to national culture.

This archival research has prepared me for the ethnographic part of my research in Bandung, West Java and Yogyakarta, Central Java where I will continue to investigate the grassroots archives as they influence the past, present, and future of jazz communities throughout Indonesia. I continue to investigate collections and interview archivists, musicians, festival organizers, and the many kinds of participants in the Indonesian jazz community.




Published Icon

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2018