Meet 2010 Lemelson Fellowship Recipients

Through a generous gift of Dr. Robert Lemelson, the Indonesian Studies Program, under the auspices of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, has been able to award a second set of fellowships to support research in Indonesian Studies.

The funding is available to all UCLA graduate students, at both the MA and Ph.D. levels. Fellowships were approximately $4,000. Proposals were available online, with a 2010 application deadline in February. The Center entertained any proposal that was centrally related to Indonesian Studies, but gave priority to those that sought support for fieldwork in Indonesia or archival research (in Indonesia or elsewhere). Funds may be used for research activities between April 1, 2010 and March 30, 2011.

Robert Lemelson, Ph.D., is an anthropologist who received his M.A. from the University of Chicago, and his doctorate from the UCLA Department of Anthropology. He is currently a research anthropologist at the Semel Institute of Neurosciences at UCLA, and lecturer in the Departments of Anthropology and Psychology. He is also the president and founder of The Foundation for Psychocultural Research, a non-profit research foundation supporting research and training in the neurosciences and social sciences, and the director of Elemental Productions, a ethnographic documentary film production company.  More information about Robert Lemelson and one of his films is available here.

2010 Lemelson Fellows

Gustav Brown

Gustav Brown
Department of Sociology

This project centers on the relationship between democratization and Islam in Indonesia. In particular, I seek to understand how democratization has changedand continues to changethe ways in which Islamic actors engage in Indonesian political and public life. I also seek to ascertain the degree to which democratization has altered the internal social dynamics of Islam in Indonesia, with particular regard to power relations among prominent Islamic organizations. Finally, I also question whether developments internal to Islam in Indonesia might provoke re-imaginings of Indonesia as a Muslim nation.

Meghan Hynson

Meghan Hynson
Department of Ethnomusicology

With the support of the 2010 Lemelson Fellowship, Meghan Hynson will be performing ethnomusicological research in Bali, Indonesia. The paper she intends to write entitled, Performing Religion: The Puppet Preacher in Balinese Hinduism, will explore the identity of Balinese artists as important social and religious figures. Of particular importance for her paper is the term dalang or shadow puppeteer. Meghans research is first concerned with a special type of dalang who has gone through religious rites of passage allowing him to make holy water, bestow blessings, carry out exorcisms, and give healing performances. This type of dalang is far more than a puppeteer; he is a healer and a shaman, and is usually sought after for his extensive religious knowledge. In addition to this, Meghan will also explore the role of the dalang in a rare form of human dance-drama called wayang wong. In the wayang wong, the narrator, who is also the lead dancer, is also referred to as a dalang. Although the use of the term dalang in this genre refers to a different type of performer in a different context of performance, the social and religious function of the dalang in both genres is quite similar. The bulk of Meghans research project will be spent documenting a rare wayang wong performance that is only given once every six months of the Balinese calendar, and she will continue to explore role of the dalang in both genres, transforming him into what she has coined, a puppet preacher.

Sara Koch

Sara Koch
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The coral reefs surrounding Indonesia support marine environments that are unparalleled in their richness and biodiversity. Sadly, these jewels of nature are also the most critically threatened reef systems on the planet. Human activity is resulting in changes in ocean chemistry via a process called ocean acidification. Corals are especially sensitive to ocean chemistry: increasingly acidic seawater slows coral growth and could eventually wipe out entire reefs. My project addresses key questions concerning the threat of ocean acidification to these vital ecosystems. Which coral species are most vulnerable and which most resilient to ocean acidification? Can resilient coral populations act as lifelines for other threatened reefs? My answers to these questions will have major implications for the planning and establishment of new marine sanctuaries to safeguard the future of these crucially important natural wonders.

Rita Rachmawati

Rita Rachmawati
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Indonesia has the most diverse coral reef communities in the world. Although the livelihoods of many people depend, directly or indirectly, on these ecosystems, the coral reefs of Indonesia are critically endangered. Corals are keystone species of coral reef ecosystems, creating suitable environments for other reef organisms, and providing critical ecosystem services for human populations. Unfortunately, as settled or non-mobile organisms, corals cannot move away from degrading environmental conditions. Unhealthy, stressed corals undergo a process known as coral bleaching, where they expel the algal symbiont that provides the coral both its nutrition and coloration. Of particular concern are increased sea surface temperatures associated with global warming that can result in mass coral bleaching and the catastrophic collapse of individual coral reefs. I will study the characteristics of coral-algal symbiosis in response to elevated temperatures in Indonesian waters. Using molecular genetic approaches, I will examine symbiont diversity among corals in bleaching sensitive and bleaching resistant populations to better understand how corals may respond to global climate change.

Terenjit Sevea

Terenjit Sevea
Department of History

Dedicating June to August 2010 to visiting archives in Indonesia and the United Kingdom (UK) will be valuable to my dissertations purpose of revealing that there is an alternative corpus of unedited and unpublished jawi and romanized texts available for the study of nineteenth century Malay-Indonesian history. The award of the Lemelson Fellowship will support my efforts to: firstly, access private collections at Pulau Penyengat, Jakarta and Pontianak; and secondly, explore facets of the yet-unpublished archival material that has been mentioned in Merle Ricklefs and P. Voorhoeves catalogue, Indonesian Manuscripts in Great Britain (1977). Through my research, I hope to continue a pattern within certain circles of scholarship which is dedicated to exploring oft-neglected cheaply printed nineteenth century Malay texts. The histories of peripatetic saints and cults, the religion of cultivators, an Islam of carnivals, magic and healing that are transcribed in unedited and unpublished Malay writings from the nineteenth century, which make up my research, are not ones that have received much scholarly attention in the discipline of history as a whole, let alone in the history of Southeast Asian Islam.

Jae Hyeok Shin

Jae Hyeok Shin
Department of Political Science

Voters, Electoral Institutions, and Pork Barrel Politics: An Experimental Study of Voter Demands for Pork in Indonesia -- Pork barrel politics, which is believed to undermine government accountability and performance, and hence weaken citizen support for democracy in the long run, is prevalent in the developing world. Conventional wisdom is that pork-oriented politics is rampant in less developed countries because poor people desire their representatives to deliver individual/local benefits rather than national public policies. Nonetheless, can political institutions help foster policy-oriented party competition in these countries? This project addresses the question by conducting a series of field experiments in Indonesia in order to test whether voter demands for pork or policy can be manipulated regardless of the voters socio-economic conditions. If voter demands can be controlled by politicians for their electoral gains, we could spur policy-oriented politics in poor countries by adopting party-centered electoral institutions, such as a closed-list proportional representation system with a national constituency, under which politicians tend to benefit from delivering public policies rather than pork. Therefore, my research will help us to provide evidence-based advice to Indonesia and other developing countries that want to reform their electoral institutions in order to improve governance, accountability, and citizen support for democracy.

Annie Tucker

Annie Tucker
Department of World Arts and Cultures

Annie Tucker will use the support of a Lemelson Fellowship to conduct a pilot investigation into cultural models of autism in Indonesia during the Summer of 2010. Scarce qualitative research on this topic has been published up until this point, yet within the country there is increasing development of biomedical and alternative treatment centers, a proliferation of autism education and awareness organizations, as well as a flowering of educational and interpretive web resources, such as parenting blogs. This growing public awareness of autism has been reflected by an increased presence of autistic characters in recent Indonesian films and novels.
Clearly autism is emerging as a culturally salient category of developmental difference; by attending to the various realms of discourse and experience within which the occurrence of autism is embedded, Annie hopes to develop a sense of the presentation of autism across Java and Bali and the various "cultural toolkits" that Indonesians may access to help them understand, frame, and cope with autism and developmental difference. The preliminary data she gathers will inform the development of her doctoral research proposal and afford her the opportunity to establish relationships with potential mentors, collaborators, informants, and sponsoring institutions in Java and Bali so that she may return for an extended period of ethnographic fieldwork.