• Photo: Angela Arunarsirakul

  • Photo: Samuel Degregori

  • Photo: Julie Gaynes

  • Photo: Otto Stuparitz

  • Photo: Dian Tri Irawaty

In 2019, UCLA graduate students traveled to Indonesia to conduct research projects sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies' Indonesian Studies Travel Grants.


Angela Arunarsirakul

In the last decade, running as a form of exercise and sport gained popularity in Indonesia. In the last five years, there has been an estimated 300% increase in running events being held, including the addition of several marathons to the Indonesian portfolio. As well, the number of women running has visibly increased. This holds true for female ultra-runners too, as evident in the growth of an informal running network for such women. Being an ultra-runner myself, I am interested in exploring how female ultra-marathon runners impact Indonesian society.

With the summer travel grant, I spent time getting acquainted with female ultra-runners in Jakarta and Yogyakarta. Through interviews with the runners, I got a better sense of what motivated them to start running, what led them to continue, and how they view themselves and their roles in influencing other women. These women have a close-knit circle of friends with whom they share their struggles and accomplishments; they are able to motivate, encourage, and inspire one another. Their impact on the new female runner, however, can be limiting because the distances that these ultra-runners cover are beyond the imagination of the new runner. With these initial findings in mind, there is potential in further exploring either the impact of female ultra-marathoners on female marathoners, or female marathoners on new female runners. This is because the sports and running industry will continue to grow in Indonesia, and companies will be interested in understanding how they can best capture a greater market share or audience.


Samuel Degregori

Research on gut microbiomes has increased drastically over the last two decades. While our understanding of these microbes has grown significantly, especially those within humans and other mammals, research on the gut microbiomes of non-mammalian taxa is lacking. For my PhD I am utilizing coral reef fish as a model system to better understand how gut microbiomes are shaped by host diet, host phylogeny, and environment. Coral reef fish are incredibly diverse and abundant allowing for robust analyses on these various factors.

I set out to numerous islands across the Indo and South Pacific to collect gut microbiome samples from 20 species of coral reef fish representing a range of feeding behaviors, phylogenies, and geographical environments. Some environments included Mangareva, Mo’orea, Tetiaroa, and Palau Seribu. Samples were processed using the Earth Microbiome Project protocol and are currently being sent for sequencing on an Ilumina Miseq. Sequence data will be processed using QIIME2 and results will be compiled into manuscripts for publication. By analyzing how host phylogeny, diet, and environment all interact to shape fish gut microbiomes, this project will further our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary forces that contribute to gut microbiome composition and diversity.

Julie Gaynes
World Arts & Dance

The Lamaholot region of East Indonesia spans across four islands around the coast of Flores in the Indonesian province, Nusa Tenggara Timur. I conduct ongoing cultural research on the island of Lembata about how healing relationships between human and non-human persons/spirits demonstrate sophisticated self-understandings beyond colonial conceptions of reality, particularly in a landscape so frequently dismissed by the central Indonesian government and international institutions as “primitive” and “behind the times.”

Using oral history methodology, I conducted inquiry this summer with local healers and laypeople about how local healing practices “travel” across time and space. As landscapes shift due to a) an increasing influx of imported technologies, b) more regimented standards of education, and c) a push towards global industry, non-human persons channeled by spiritual mediums also shift loyalties. My collaborators in Lembata have assured me that data collection might serve as “dokumentasi” for Lamaholot leaders and local parents who regularly discuss the value of passing down local knowledges and relational epistemologies to their youth. Through written stories and mixed-media art, I hope to help Lamaholot narratives, imbued with wisdom, “travel” beyond borders.


Otto Stuparitz

The summer travel grant enabled me to complete my dissertation fieldwork research focused on the history and contemporary practice of Indonesian jazz. I traveled to a number grassroots archives in West, Central, and East Java, including Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Malang. An important part of my archival research is investigating these institutions ethnographically; concerned not only with what each archive contains, but also why the archives have been formed, the characteristics of the people generating each project, what narratives the archivists hope to tell, and why existing institutions have not been sufficient.

I have paired this research with attending large jazz festivals, an increasingly popular activity for the growing Indonesian middle class, throughout Java as well as Bali, Kalimantan, and Nusa Tenggara Timur. These festivals present a mixture of jazz, pop, and traditional/fusion ensembles. Audience members often tell me even though the events are billed as “jazz festivals,” “tidak semuanya jazz” (it’s not all jazz). Relating the archives and the festivals, two concepts emerge, “real jazz” and “Indonesian jazz.” Audience members, musicians, and organizers would often tell me, although the events are billed as “jazz festivals,” “tidak semuanya jazz” (it’s not all jazz). I will relate the concepts of “real jazz” and “Indonesian jazz” in my dissertation, as differing articulations emerged in the process of archiving and through the festival performance circuits.


Dian Tri Irawaty

The goal of my preliminary research was to map out in detail the landscape of resistance to kampung evictions in Jakarta, including identifying the main actors involved in the movement, strategies deployed in their struggles, and alternative proposals to forced eviction. I established a connection with actors from eight organizations that are engaged with the grassroots movements. These organizations come from various backgrounds/interests, including a community-based organization, an Advocacy NGO, a community architect organization, an Architecture Department from a prominent university in Indonesia, an urban research institute, a legal aid institution, and a community-journalism group. All have been working collaboratively in mainstreaming the idea of kampung as a sustainable living space and secure it from further eviction. I also interviewed two activists on their strategies in fighting the eviction. 

I got the opportunity to conduct a participatory observation where I joined the meetings of the grassroots movement with different stakeholders. One of the sessions was related to the urban agrarian reform with an Agrarian Reform Task Force. The other meeting was with the current Jakarta’s Governor on the Community Action Plan (CAP), a participatory approach to community upgrading program aimed to improve the security of land tenure for kampungs in Jakarta. This preliminary research enabled me to identify a potential case study: one kampung in West Jakarta and its involvement in the CAP program along with the other sixteen kampungs.



Published Icon

Published: Monday, October 21, 2019