(P41) Mobility that brings immobility – the social and cultural aspects of internal migrations in Indonesia
Wed 16:30-18:00 K12 | 1.12
- Simona Sienkiewicz Jagiellonian University
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Fighting for existence: Orang Woirata on Kisar Island
Leolita Masnun Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The inter-islands movement of people in Maluku province is not a new phenomenon but had been going on for centuries before the arriving of European. For example, on Kisar Island, district Maluku Barat Daya, two different language-speaking groups were formed by migrants that arrived in separate waves. The formation of each of them was stored and preserved in the local mythology. One group claimed that they were the first residents in Kisar, while the other came and settled afterward. Currently, both perceive themselves to be the first inhabitants which has an impact on construction of the minority/majority and the social and political aspects. This presentation is an initial attempt to explore the process of marginalizing a local political entity in the small islands in the southwest part of the Maluku province.
Internal mobility and the problem of multicultural relationships in Indonesia
Simona Sienkiewicz Jagiellonian University
The problem of relationships among people in multicultural environments is usually attributed to countries that have a high proportion of migrants among their population. Meanwhile, heterogenous nations, with a great religious and ethnic variety, often promote coexistence in the spirit of “unity in diversity”. This motto has become the foundation of Indonesia but emerged as problematic when the development enabled people to move between the islands - both within government-supported transmigration and spontaneous moves. They exposed the problems of cultural differences between Indonesians and their complex, dynamic identities tied to the land and places of origin, especially on the rural territories. Lack of knowledge and education in managing interethnic or interreligious relations led to tensions and even conflicts (e.g., on Kalimantan). Clash of the values and aspirations of internal migrants and indigenous people strongly influence their everyday life. In this presentation I show the complexities of multicultural relationships, understood as relationships immersed in more than two cultures on the example of internal migrants in West Seram, Maluku. I focus on case studies from the Javanese transmigrant village and Butonese (from Southeast Sulawesi) settlements on the Buano Island. Although both groups are perceived as internal migrants, their backgrounds and origins make their impact on shaping relations with the indigenous population different. By comparing the positions of the Javanese and Butonese, I will try to reflect what factors are crucial in the renegotiation of their position on the foreign land.
Orang Dagang (Migrant Traders) in Post-Decentralization Maluku Province
Hatib Kadir Universitas Brawijaya
In Maluku Province, Eastern Indonesia, traders are considered orang dagang (foreigners, migrants) that do not belong to the local culture, even though they have lived in the Moluccan islands for centuries. Orang dagang are mostly migrants from Sulawesi Island (Butonese, Buginese, and Makasarese). The presence of these migrants in Maluku has also influenced ethnic and cultural diversity. Most orang dagang work in the trade sector as moneylenders, middlemen, and shop owners. Although orang dagang have been disadvantaged by customary law and being seen as outsiders, they have developed strategies to offset these difficulties by managing a variety of economic exchanges to their advantage. First, is on migrant trader’s political expansion from business to politics. Secondly, from the ways of moral economy of migrant trader politicians who distribute their public goodness in order to create a sense of recognition and belonging to the place where they were born and raised.
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.