Labor migration from Southeast Asia to Taiwan: issues, public responses and future development

As a part part of the working collaboration between the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada and the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies, Tamkang University, Taiwan, A joint paper by Prof. Jian Bang Deng, Prof. Hermin Indah Wahyuni and Dr. phil. Vissia Ita Yulianto is just published. This paper calls attention to the close linkage between transnational mobility and social inequality. It showed how the transnationalization of social inequality could get new faces through the new waves of labor migration. The issue of social inequality not only reflects the policy levels of receiving and sending countries, but it also is shown in experiences of the individual labor migrants in their transnational careers.
Sebagai bagian dari kolaborasi antara PSSAT UGM dan Universitas Tamkang Taiwan, telah dipublikasikan joint paper oleh Prof. Jian Bang Deng, Prof. Hermin Indah Wahyuni dan Dr. phil. Vissia Ita Yulianto. Paper ini memberikan gambaran mengenai hubungan mobilitas transnasional dan ketimpangan sosial. Dalam penelitian ini, dijabarkan bahwa transnasionalisasi dari ketimpangan sosial dapat memberikan gelombang baru isi buruh migrant. Isu ketimpangan sosial bukan hanya direfleksikan oleh kebijakan pengirim dan penerima tenaga kerja namun juga terlihat dari pengalaman yang dialami para migran saat bekerja diluar negeri.

This research is sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (project numbers: MOST 106-2410-H032-055-MY2).


Deng, J.-B.Wahyuni, H.I. and Yulianto, V.I. (2020), “Labor migration from Southeast Asia to Taiwan: issues, public responses and future development”, Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

China is Coming!: The Construction and Representation of China in Indonesia

The rise of China as a global power has led to the state of panic throughout the world. Despite the insistence by its leaders of China’s ‘peaceful rise,’ fear, anxiety and even hostility toward China has widely been spread. While most analyses are focused more on the implications of the growing power of China on various aspects of power relations, less attention has been given to the way in which China is perceived in other countries. Arguably, the construction of China as a serious threat has played similarly important role in the negative responses of other countries toward the rise of China. The proposed research will fill the gap in the academic discourse on this issue by focusing the analysis on the perception on China and on the framing of its rise. In addition, by focusing on the case of Indonesia, the proposed research will not only help us better understand Indonesian policy toward China but can also be of significance for design more appropriate policy toward China. Departing from constructivist theoretical framework, the research will be conducted through examining documents and speeches, media coverage as well as interviews or focused group discussion.

This research by Muhadi Sugiono, Hermin Indah Wahyuni, and Dafri Agussalim will be conducted in collaboration with the Asean Studies Center (ASC), at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.

Communication and Politics of Disaster in Indonesia: Analysis of the Multi-Layered Responses to Maritime Disaster in Semarang and Aceh

This research by Dr.phil. Hermin Indah Wahyuni, Theresia Octastefani, M.AP., M.Pol.Sc, Muhammad Rum, IMAS, and Prof. David Robie from Program Hibah Kolaboratif Internasional Fakultas ISIPOL UGM in 2018 is intended to analyse the communication and politics of disaster in Indonesia through an examination of the multi-layered responses to two maritime disasters: tidal flooding in Semarang and the threat of tsunamis in Aceh. Although these maritime disasters have different characteristics, both were destructive. While tidal flooding in Semarang has been a slow-onset disaster, tsunamis in Aceh arrive suddenly. Tidal flooding has occurred along the northern coast of Java for decades, but yet to be mitigated; in fact, it has only expanded and caused more damage. Meanwhile, the 2004 tsunami in Aceh was the largest maritime disaster ever experienced in Indonesia, killing hundreds of thousands, causing massive destruction, and creating a number of social problems that remain even today. The main vision of the Joko Widodo (Jokowi) government to reaffirm Indonesia’s status as a strong maritime country cannot be optimally realised, and may even be hindered, if these disasters cannot be addressed.

Through the cases of maritime disasters in Semarang and Aceh, this research aims to offer novel insight into measuring the performance of disaster management from a political point of view. Success tackling disaster is not merely about technicalities, but relies on an interplay of systems, i.e. communication and the politics of disaster. These systems should reinforce each other to enable social resilience. Political openness, inclusiveness, and democratisation in these systems might benefit the promotion of resilience. Meanwhile, failing to better include multi-layered stakeholders might result in a higher level of societal risk. Three aspects of communication and the politics of disaster will be examined in this research: values and norms, regulation, and the governance of disaster response.

To attain a comprehensive understanding, this research will use a qualitative approach combining several data collection procedures, including interviews, focus group discussions, simple content analysis, observation, and review of policy documents.

Tradition and International Relations: Alternative Conflict Resolution through ‘Masyarakat Adat’ Initiative in the Border Dispute Settlement between Indonesia and Timor Leste

Border dispute constitutes one of the most challenging issues in the normalisation of the relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste. Two land borders separate the two countries: 150 km in the eastern part and 120 km in the western part (Oecusse, Timor Leste’s enclave inside Indonesian province of Nusa Tenggara Timur). While the eastern part of the border has successfully been negotiated, the western part of the border remains disputed until today. Negotiations of the unsettled borders continue until today without significant progress. Different interpretation exists between Indonesian and Timor Leste negotiators.

The failure of the border dispute settlement has not only prevented the development of the area but also, more seriously, led to uncertainty and instability in the relations among the people occupying the border area. Tension, conflict and violence emerged as a result of this uncertain situation. The tension triggered by alleged invasion of the East Timorese in the Indonesian territory, for example, has escalated into violence and declaration of war in the society in 2016.

The unsettled border area is inhabited by the people with ties of kinship. The new international border will undoubtedly separate and break the ties. But, unsettled interstate border will transform kinship relations into enmity relations. It is within this context that the initiative of masyarakat adat should be seen as break through the deadlock and a positive step to prevent the situation from worsening. A serious study, therefore, is needed to support the case of such traditional conflict resolution.

This study by Drs. Muhadi Sugiono, MA, Atin Prabandari, MA, Edegar Da Conceicao Savio, Ph.D, Jose Cornelio Guterres, Ph.D, Prof. Dr. Aloysius Liliweri, Dr. Kotan Y. Stefanus, Dr. Ajis S.A Djaha, and Bilveer Singh from Program Hibah Kolaboratif Internasional Fakultas ISIPOL UGM in 2018 is an effort to answer the above problems, in order to understand the extent to which masyarakat adat initiative could provide alternative problem solving to the impasse and unresolved border dispute. Collaborating with academic activist from the Univesidade da Paz, National University of Singapore, and Pascasarjana Universitas Nusa Cendana, this research will shed the way for connecting academics in two countries in solving common social and political problems; bringing academic endeavor in solving real social and political problems (research 2.0). Academically, this research will also give insight on the active and significant role, knowledge, practices and local wisdom of indigenous society in the border dispute settlement (research 1.0). Furthermore, the research will illuminate our understanding on alternative border dispute settlement in post-colonial states in Indonesia in particular and Southeast Asia in general.

Documentary film as a catalyst for social change in Indonesia

Research by Dr. Budi Irawanto, Dr. Novi Kurnia, and Theresia Octastefani, M.AP from the Higher Education Leading Basic Research Grant Program – PDUPT 2018-2020 aims to examine the links between documentary films and social change in Indonesia. Since the process of democratization (Reformation) has begun since 1998, documentary films have experienced decent growth and their production has increasingly spread to a number of regions in Indonesia. In contrast to fiction, documentary films rely on factuality and carry out truth claims on the reality that it raises. More than just representing a variety of social problems, documentary films have the power to open insight, raise awareness and shape certain attitudes. Not surprisingly, documentary films are able to persuade the audience, create a layered meaning, provide a rich experience and create a new awareness of the various issues (issues) of social, political, cultural or ecological that they represent.

Nevertheless, so far documentary film research in Indonesia has focused more on certain thematic (content) aspects and institutional dimensions related to documentary screening organizers. There has not been much exploration of documentary film as a text as well as its social implications in certain contexts in Indonesia. Therefore, this study intends to examine more deeply the complex relationships between documentary films with social change. The novelty of this research lies in the effort to find practical implications or dimensions of practical documentary films in relation to social change in Indonesia.

Using a case study, this research explores data through in-depth interviews with a number of documentary film community activists active in several regions in Indonesia, such as: Banda Aceh, Banjarnegara, Klaten, Yogyakarta, Denpasar, Lombok, Palu and Makassar. In addition, the data extracted from the field will be combined with the text analysis of a number of documentary films that contain social change in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the essence of the message to be conveyed. The findings of this study are expected to contribute to the knowledge of documentary films in inspiring and becoming a catalyst for social change in Indonesia by considering the context and problems that are unique to each region. Thus, the final output of this research is in the form of publications in various forms, including: scientific journal articles (national and international), books, manuals (guides) in producing and organizing screenings of documentary films oriented to social change.

Strengthening Understanding of Reproductive Health for Youth as Prevention of Child Marriage in Indonesia (Sociological Perspective, Communication and Culture)

Child marriage is defined as marriage performed by children under the age of 18 who are forced, or of their own volition. In this practice, girls are the most disadvantaged because they are related to the high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and the obstruction of their potential to develop themselves. One of the most basic forms of child marriage prevention is the application of understanding reproductive health, especially for adolescents. Unfortunately, this has not been maximized because of religious and socio-cultural challenges. Thus, studies of the need for strengthening reproductive health are urgently needed regarding efforts to save the younger generation and gender equality in accordance with the 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With this in mind, this research is in line with one of the research priorities of Gadjah Mada University, namely the handling of vulnerable communities. In this study, adolescents (men and women) are vulnerable groups that easily fall into child marriages. This research maps out the forms of transfer of knowledge about reproductive health between children in the family environment, children in the school environment, children in the community, and the influence of conventional mass media and online media that provide opportunities or become obstacles in accessing knowledge about reproductive health. This situation is also in accordance with the research plan of Gadjah Mada University, namely the issue of cultural aspects of social media and digital media and research maps of the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies UGM, namely social, political and cultural dynamics in the Southeast Asia region, specifically Indonesia.

The long-term goal of the research by Prof. Dr. Partini, Dr.phil. Hermin Indah Wahyuni, and Lidwina Mutia Sadasri, MA of the Higher Education Leading Basic Research Grant Program – PDUPT in 2018-2019 is to encourage the formulation of human development policies, especially women who are sensitive to the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (HKRS) through comprehensive reproductive health education in various educational institutions. The specific target to be achieved through this research is the publication of research on mapping reproductive health education and its potential to prevent child marriages. In fulfilling this, the real method carried out is to provide authentic data qualitatively and quantitatively obtained in the field and then to collaborate with various relevant stakeholders (government, educational institutions, BKKBN, NGOs). Forms of publications include international and national research journals, publication of books, recommendations for public policy formulation, research results seminars, and training on reproductive health for adolescents.

Plurality of Digital Memory about 1965: Tracking the Point of Consensus

Media reconstructs and mediates collective memory (Haskin, 2007; Sturken, 2008; Hoskins, 2014). New media allows archiving, distributing, exhibiting, retrieving (Van House & Churchill, 2008), as well as being an arena for memory contestation (Bindas, 2010) through deconstructing and reconstructing related collective memories of 1965/66. The main users of new media such as Youtube, Twitter and Instagram social media in Indonesia are millennial groups that are relatively disconnected from the ideologization of the regime and are relatively free from the New Order’s formal propaganda about 1965.

There are three types of research on collective memory in digital media. First, many focus on events that occur when digital technology has expanded in society and illustrate how citizenship uses digital media to archive, variety and remember (Hess, 2007; Arthur, 2011; Allen & Bryan, 2011). Second, a lot of research captures current events about the use of digital media to reconstruct or recall a past event (memorialization) or memorialising figures before digital technology surfaces (Recuber, 2012, Blackburn, 2013, Kalkina, 2013, Marschall, 2013, Döveling, Harju & Shavit, 2015). Third, past events that have been taken as a trauma such as the Holocaust (Menyhért, 2011) have even become extraterritorial cosmopolitan memory (Levy & Sznaider, 2002).

Different from the three types of research that already existed above, this research raised past events, long before digital technology was present, and still not ‘resolved’ namely the events of 1965/66. These events quietly became public trauma at the same time since the 1998 Reformation had an open interpretation. Because the events of 1965/66 were ‘incomplete’ and there was no ‘official reconstruction’ of the country, the event was remembered in various forms of digital memory in the public domain and spread.

Existing research views hegemonic and rival memory inherently – sequentially – in mainstream media and online media (Birkner & Donk, 2018). Meanwhile, this research considers that both in mainstream media and online media, hegemonic and rival memory can occur (Möckel-Rieke, 1998) and the content of collective memory in mainstream and new media is not necessarily something that can be contested (Gehl, 2009).

The purpose of this research is how does the narrative of the events of 65/66 in the new media in the millennial group of the democratic era? Is there still a master narrative about the events of 65/66? What is the rival story about 65/66 events in new media (Youtube, Instagram, Twitter)?

This 2018 research by Dr. Hakimul Ikhwan, Gilang Desti Parahita, MA, and Dr. phil. Vissia Ita Yulianto from the Collaborative Program Crossing the Faculty of ISIPOL UGM looks at two things: digital memory content: 1965/66 as a memory that appears as a focus and context for a narrative or discourse on a number of social media, and who (using the concept Wulf Kansteiner (2002) about the formation of collective memory) that produces digital memory content.


Smart Disaster Response: Contribution of Millennial Young Generation in Handling Rob Floods on the Pantura Line in Semarang City

At present, Semarang City has entered a demographic bonus, namely the phenomenon of the abundance of the population of productive age significantly. In order not to turn into a demographic disaster, the management and utilization of demographic bonuses must be immediately carried out, particularly in the involvement of young people in various activities, including their involvement in responding to tidal flood problems in the Pantura Line in Semarang City, which has not yet been resolved. Their involvement is very important because their position is relatively free from political interests so that they can do various smart and innovative things in presenting and communicating the strategic steps that will be taken to help solve the problem of tidal flooding.

Moreover, if we look at trends in disaster management studies that develop over time. The assessment of disaster management in the millennial era focuses a lot on the importance of the role of civil society because of the limited capacity of the state (Adger et. Al., 2005; Aldrich, 2008; Patterson, et. Al., 2010; Akeyo, 2010). In fact, in the past four years, studies of digital transformation in disaster management have also become a new trend among the younger generation (Houston, et. Al., 2014; De Albuquerque, 2015). For this reason, this research positions itself as a political study of the role of civil society, especially among the millennial generation, who are familiar with the digital world and part of Indonesia’s surplus demography to respond to disasters.

With this in mind, this research is in line with Gadjah Mada University’s Research and Priority Research Policy 2010-2020; 2012-2017 University Master Plan (RIP) of Gadjah Mada University; and national research priorities, especially Social Humanities, Disaster, and Maritime Affairs, which are the actual issues as stated in the 2017-2045 National Research Master Plan (RIRN).

The long-term goal of the study by Theresia Octastefani, M.AP, Wawan Mas’udi, Ph.D, and Muhammad Rum, IMAS from the 2018 Research Lecturers’ Capacity Building Grant Program is to produce the next generation of Semarang City who are able to become change actors as well as a resilient community that is literate in information technology so that it can create a variety of smart and creative works; and has a fast and responsive capacity to contribute and be involved in efforts to tackle tidal floods. The specific purpose of this study is the integration of the spirit of the youth of Semarang City with the local government program in resolving the problem of tidal flooding so that the resolution of the tidal flood problem becomes the common interest of all relevant parties. Another specific goal to be achieved is the establishment of cooperation in the form of joint publications between the Research Team and the related collaborative partners. To get a comprehensive understanding, the research method used is a mix method, namely by presenting and analyzing data qualitatively and supported by quantitative data obtained through analysis of Social Network Analysis. The form of research output is in the form of a final report; draft national or international research journals; draft international seminar articles (oral presentation); and video.


Conceptualizing ‘The Right to Peace’: Debates, Dilemmas, Relevance and Implication in ASEAN Context

Mass Media and Construction of ASEAN Identity (Comparative study of Indonesia & Thailand)