Seven UCLA Graduate Students pursued research in Indonesia in 2017 with funding from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies' Indonesian Studies Travel Grants.


Aji Anggoro
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Assessing Decapods Diversity in Indonesia: An Insight to Unexplored Marine Biodiversity

Difficulties in data collection and poor taxonomic expertise have resulted in non-existing reliable databases of decapod distribution Indonesian-wide. Consequently, consideration for decapods biodiversity in conservation proposals and design is often lacking. This research is aimed at using purposive sampling method to inventory decapods in Indonesia by concentrating on the following points: 1. quantifying the magnitude of decapod biodiversity Indonesian-wide 2. building local expertise in taxonomic identification by knowledge exchange 3. developing an online storage species inventory system. Decapods are versatile species that are able to live in varied environments; these species can also be a useful indicator in showing the level of environmental degradation. Hence decapods are advantageous to be used as a proxy for marine biodiversity estimations and are a compulsory addition to biological parameters required in conservation management designs.

The Indonesian Studies Summer Travel Grant have particularly supported large portions of this project by allowing me and other Indonesian students to travel to Raja Ampat, West Papua Indonesia, one of the most diverse place in the world especially for coral reef ecosystem. The team has successfully collected more than 500 samples of decapods where the samples are now being curated and barcoded using genetic approach. The grant has also supported educational part from this project, by allowing a number of local students from Papua University to be involved in the project and being trained as taxonomist and field data collector.


Sebastiaan Broere

Due to its long established connections to the Indonesian archipelago, the library of Leiden University, the Netherlands, contains a voluminous and rich collection of both published and unpublished documents relating to the history of Indonesia. Last summer, as part of my dissertation project, I travelled to the Netherlands to consult the Leiden archives. Under the tentative heading of Decolonizing Agriculture Knowledge: Agricultural Education, Food Production, and Indonesia’s Struggle for Development, 1945-1967, I examine the ways in which scientific expertise facilitated the imagining and enacting of Indonesia’s independence and development. On the first of June, 1945, Sukarno famously delivered his ‘Lahirnja Pantja Sila’ speech to the Badan Penjelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia, identifying ‘social justice’ or ‘social prosperity’ as one of the principles upon which the future Indonesian state would be founded. This theme — turning Indonesia into a ‘masjarakat adil dan makmur’ — would recur in Sukarno’s addresses throughout the 1950s and 1960s. During the same period, Indonesian scientists and state officials established the ideal of a just and prosperous society as the primary locus of the production of scientific knowledge.

I am currently working my way through the records I digitized at Leiden University. As a result, both my knowledge of Indonesian history and my Indonesian language skills are improving day by day. My main objective at the moment is settling the question what the argument and focus of my dissertation will be and how to arrange the content of my analysis accordingly.


Tassaya Charupatanapongse
Geography/Environmental Sciences

Before embarking on my trip to Indonesia, I had been working closely with Professors Eric Sheppard and Helga Leitner as part of the Jakarta Collective team along with other PhD students, such as Emma Colven and Dian Irawaty. Under Professors Eric Sheppard and Helga Leitner, I had been helping the group out with researching these evictions in Jakarta, investing questions such as: What is the process of these evictions? What are the justifications used in these evictions and how are they being legitimized? Are these evictions met with resistance, and if so, what types of resistance is occurring? Are these populations provided with alternative housing and if so, where are they being relocated? Are they being compensated for their housing?

When I went to Jakarta during the summer, I was able to witness the situation on the ground that I had been researching and reading about. For example, we visited a Kampung (slum) that had recently been evicted and got to see the 5-meter rule enforced, as settlements next to the river were all cleared, but settlements beyond that point were still intact. I was also able to walk through another Kampung that had also been through an eviction process and talk to a few of the residents who lived there. With my time in Jakarta, I was able to immerse myself in the culture, people, and situation that I had only been able to study remotely up until that point.

Upon my return, I worked with Andrew Jarvis, another undergraduate student, to craft and write a paper that we submitted to Aleph, the UCLA undergraduate journal. The paper was on evictions in Jakarta through the media, using the methodologies of discourse analysis and Wordle. My time in Jakarta contributed to this effort, as I was able to be more detailed with focused with the writing and instance real examples of what I had seen. 


Mya Chau
Art History

In summer 2017, the Indonesian Studies Summer Travel Grant allowed me to participate in the SOAS-UGM 2nd Southeast Asian Art History Program in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Held at Universitas Gadjah Mada, the program is a summer field school for 20 Southeast Asian and overseas MA/PhD students taught by several international experts. The focus of the program is Central Javanese Hindu and Buddhist art history from the early 8th to the late 9th century, the height of Central Javanese civilization. Activities included scholar lectures, student presentations, discussion workshops, and field trips to Borobudur, Loro Jonggrang, the Buddhist Candi Sewu, and the Ratu Boko plateau.

The audience engagement in this program was extraordinary. I interacted closely with teaching experts, graduate students, and program leaders with a strong vision to cultivate the study of Southeast Asian Art History. Participants were offered a rare opportunity to learn in the classroom combined with the experience of viewing museum objects and visiting temples. The archaeological sites in Indonesia provoked awe and self-discovery, triggering a curiosity to learn more. Participants often responded with new questions for discussion, which I believe is the greatest measure for student engagement. The knowledge from the different viewpoints provided a greater understanding of the central issues in the field. The program inspired more scholars and students to research about Indonesian art through multi-disciplinary approaches.


Onny Marwayana
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Biodiversity and Distribution of Salt Water Fish in Indonesia Using the Environmental DNA Method

Indonesia is an archipelagic nation comprised of 17,000 islands; seventy percent of its territory is ocean. The country is also the heart of a region called the Coral Triangle, the most biological diverse marine ecosystem on the planet. One major challenge in fully understanding Indonesian marine biodiversity is that marine biologists still document diversity using water visual census. This method is time intensive and may produce biased data as it depends on the skill of the observer and can overlook rare or cryptic taxa.

Environmental DNA (eDNA), freely associated DNA molecules that animals leave behind in their environment, is a revolutionary approach to the study of biodiversity. Through water sampling, eDNA can be isolated, extracted and then sequenced, allowing researchers to document local biodiversity. The aim of this study are to 1). document the distribution and diversity of marine fish across the Indonesia archipelago, (2) compare these results to the conventional visual census methods, and (3) establish a baseline for time-series survey and monitoring of marine ecosystems across Indonesia.
Eighty water samples containing eDNA molecules have been collected and filtered from some areas in Eastern Indonesia during the fieldwork funded by UCLA Indonesian Studies Travel Grants in Summer 2017. The areas where I collected the samples are:
1. Raja Ampat in West Papua, the most diverse open water area in Indonesia,
2. Lembeh Strait in North Sulawesi, the most exotic strait inhabited by some cryptic and exotic marine organisms in Indonesia,
3. Derawan Island in East Kalimantan, one of the wonderful islands in Indonesia located in the middle of Makassar Strait as the habitat of hundred individuals of turtle species and other marine organisms


Jae Hyeon Park
Urban Planning

With the generous 2017 Indonesian Studies Summer Travel Grant provided by the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, I conducted my fieldwork on grassroots-driven slum upgrading in Yogyakarta (Jogja) and Surakarta (Solo). My summer research primarily aimed to answer the following question. “Under what conditions slum-dwellers prefer relocation over in-situ upgrading?” I hypothesized that in addition to secure tenure, relocation provided them with better housing as well as infrastructure. I collected data through observations and open-ended, semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders, including community residents, the staff of Arkom Jogja and Solo Kota Kita (local NGOs), civil society organizations, and local government officials.  In addition to interviews and field observation, I also utilized surveys of households in Surakarta to obtain the quantitative sense of household data. Those data were collected and aggregated by different local NGOs, Arkom Jogja, and Kota Kita Solo.

The findings illustrate that the relocation of slum-dwellers in Surakarta was based on several circumstantial factors such as the attitude of the city government and the active engagement of a local NGO under the central government’s strict river normalization scheme to clean up informal riverbank settlements. Surakarta City Government provided huge support for informal riverside settlements. Although the city’s favorable stance might stem from the city’s hidden desire for managing river space for resource management and tourism, it was appropriately taken advantage of by the local community. It is noteworthy that the community’s choices were heavily constrained by the illegality of land ownership due to river normalization. However, the local community was not passive. They accepted their fate of setting back from the river; however, at the same time, they enabled the city government to invent a new approach rather than the conventional public rental housing approach. The degradation effect of their homeownership shift to rentership needs to be further examined, but anyhow the residents could secure long-term (or almost forever over generations unless newly regulated) tenure from the city government after relocation.


Otto Stuparitz

Rediscovering Indonesia’s Jazz Archives

I set out in the summer of 2017 to investigate a number of Indonesian jazz archives featuring jazz and popular music recordings from the 1930s and 1940s. The resurfacing of these historically significant recordings has helped reconstruct-forgotten aspects of early Indonesian culture and society, especially Indonesian pathways towards modernization. These early recordings demonstrate how jazz became localized much earlier in Indonesia than is commonly understood. During the summer I visited the community archives of Irama Nusantara, Arsip Jazz Indonesia, Lokanata Project, and Warta Jazz that have all emerged between 2009 and 2016 to fill this historical gap of recorded jazz and popular music in Indonesia. The archives were in Depok (South Jakarta), Bogor, Surakarta, and Yogyakarta. While I still need to return to further investigate these collections and interview their founder, especially the Warta Jazz and Arsip Jazz Indonesia collections, I learned two important aspects about the Indonesian jazz collections as well as about the general history of jazz in Indonesia. First, in a historical sense, many of these jazz recordings have the same geographical home in Bandung, West Java. While the archives are now throughout Java and in many other parts of Indonesia, the first home for jazz in Indonesia is in Bandung. This makes sense when connected to other parts of Bandung’s history as one of Indonesia’s first cosmopolitan and most “modern” cities.

My next project will be more focused on Bandung, as many of the musicians, radio hosts, and archivists have discrete knowledge about the foundations of Indonesian jazz. Second, I learned that these archives are directly connected to many of the contemporary jazz festivals that have been growing in popularity in Indonesia since the early 2000s. Many of the archivists often curate the festival lineups and provide platforms to many of their favorite artists, and in this way, the archive and its repertoire have a very direct effect on the contemporary Indonesia jazz community. These findings have become the foundations for my dissertation project that will officially begin next year.

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2017