In 2020, UCLA graduate students continued to conduct their research projects sponsored by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies' Indonesian Studies Grants despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bluesukan combines jazz and West Javanese traditions
Otto Stuparitz (Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology)

Otto Stuparitz, Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology, discusses the central role of dialogue in Sundanese traditional music and jazz improvisation, as well as the coming album release by his ensemble Bluesukan.

During his field research on the historiography of Indonesian jazz, he founded a quartet with Jason Limanjaya on piano, Cucu Kurina on the Sundanese kendang (drum), Uwa Farell on the Sundanese suling (bamboo flute) and himself on electric bass. They called ourselves Bluesukan, a portmanteau of the Indonesian word blusukan and the blues.

The group focuses on making music by creating spaces for attentive listening and dialogue. They draw inspiration from other ensembles in Indonesia’s jazz community, especially the group simakDialog. They are in the process of releasing a seven-track album, with five compositions and two alternative takes. It was recorded in October 2019 at Studio 8 in Bandung, mixed at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Studio, and is now in the mastering stage for release soon.


Poor communities in Jakarta fight for their land and livelihoods
Dian Tri Irawaty (Ph.D. candidate in Geography)

Dian Tri Irawaty, Ph.D. candidate in geography, reports on how her research on grassroots movements for housing rights in Jakarta and the communities around her have been affected by COVID-19.

Her research focuses on the grassroots movement for housing rights in Jakarta in the last fifteen years. She is analyzing the evolution in the strategies implemented by grassroots organizations in their struggle for security of land tenure. For the past four months in the field, she has interviewed 16 research participants, consisting of 12 activists and 4 kampung (village) residents. She has attended multiple meetings related to the advocacy of alternative design and housing cooperatives and with government officials. 

She is paying close attention to Kampung Aquarium in North Jakarta and Kampung Kunir in West Jakarta since eviction in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Soon after the evictions, kampung residents in both locations returned to the site and fought for the right to stay. Through a long advocacy process, kampung residents, who organized under an Urban Poor Network (JRMK), were able to reclaim the land and secure a temporary shelter built by the local government. 

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Published: Saturday, August 1, 2020