(P41) Mobility that brings immobility – the social and cultural aspects of internal migrations in Indonesia


Single Panel


Session 4
Wed 16:30-18:00 K12 | 1.12


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Mobility has always been an integral part of life for the inhabitants of the contemporary Indonesia. The historical experiences of international trade and colonialism have pushed many people to move around the scattered islands of the archipelago. However, not everyone was heading beyond the borders of the Dutch colony and then the independent country - many Indonesians migrated just within the state. The vast, fertile territories of Sumatra, Kalimantan and other so-called ‘outer islands’ attracted the inhabitants of overpopulated Java, Bali and Madura. The government supported the internal
migrations through the transmigration program, but its strict requirements stimulated the spontaneous, unregistered relocations. Their real scale remains unknown, but they had a great impact on the indigenous territories of the ‘outer islands’. Turned out that sharing the same nationality is not enough to establish the foundations for interethnic relations. The official narratives often ignored the problematic diversity, claiming that the internal migrants should not perceive themselves as Javanese, Sumatran, or members of any other ethnic group, but above all, Indonesians. Meanwhile, the migration within Indonesia is often a similar experience as migration to another country – people face the language, economic, and cultural barriers that strengthen the inequalities, which bring a kind of social immobility. This panel attempt to answer the
urgent questions for the under-researched issues of social and cultural aspects of internal mobility in Indonesia. How do host communities shape their attitude towards the new settlers from the other islands? How are the ethnic boundaries renegotiated during the adaptation process of internal migrants in the new settlements? What is the impact of emerging challenges (e.g., climate change, religious policy) on the mobility in Indonesia? How does the presence of migrants reshape the culture of everyday life of both the host and immigrant communities? We invite to the discussion around these questions with the fresh perspectives from the different regions of Indonesia.