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Asylum Seekers’ and Refugees’ Decision-Making in Transit in Indonesia

The Need for In-depth and Longitudinal Research

Antje Missbach

Abstract

Asylum seekers and refugees currently living in Indonesia tend to see Indonesia as a transit rather than a destination country, despite the fact that their stays are increasing in length. Based on contact with Muhamad (not his real name), a young refugee from Iran currently residing in Indonesia whose adjustment and development I observed over four years, I illustrate the changing priorities in his decision-making, the constant flux of circumstances and context, and the extreme complexity of primary and secondary factors that come into play in planning for the future. Combining a macro perspective with a case study, in which I present excerpts from several life-story interviews, helps to exemplify these generic migratory challenges and distil a range of relevant parameters that influence the decision-making of asylum seekers and refugees in transit. A (self-)critical reflection on ethical and methodological challenges underpins my analysis and argument, not least because politicians and policymakers are increasingly interested in influencing migratory decision-making processes to gain political advantage. Of particular interest in my analysis is the role of Australia’s deterrence policies in asylum seekers’ decision-making. Despite the ethical challenges associated with studying migratory decision-making—as public knowledge of migration strategies can also suppress aspirations of mobility—I argue for more in-depth and longitudinal research. At the very least, this is because more intensive, yet considerate studies of decision-making will help us to take seriously the migratory aspirations of people with limited choices.

The Countryside in Indonesian Contemporary Art and Media

From Distant Horizons to Traversing Drones

Edwin Jurriëns

Abstract

This article analyses explorations of social and environmental problems and solutions in artistic representations of the Indonesian countryside and rural society, culture, and wisdom. It focuses on urban–rural creative collaborations that combine traditional culture and knowledge with modern technology and media, such as drones and the Internet, to empower local communities, promote artistic innovation, and enhance environmental sustainability. It seeks to demonstrate that contemporary art and media strengthen the urban–rural network and the accessibility and exchange of creative ideas and information. At the same time, the author argues that some of the causes of cultural conflict and anthropogenic disaster are embedded in forms of audio-visual representation itself. The display of urban–rural encounters in art festivals and social media can even instigate new forms of surveillance, and power and knowledge hierarchies, or reinforce regimes of consumer culture, partially responsible for the very problems the audio-visual representations and collaborations seek to address.

Hans Hägerdal

How Does Faith Feel?

The Language and Affect of Belief

Callan Schultz

Abstract

Research on emotion in anthropology has been supplanted by an ethnographic turn toward ‘subjectivity’, ‘embodiment’, ‘personhood’, and ‘experience’. In this article, I explore how these interrelated modes of analysis can help ethnographers to better understand the cultural processes that constitute how people feel. I show that among my Christian Dusun interlocutors in Ranau, Malaysian Borneo, the interactive engagement between subjects and their environment determined the vectors of emotional possibility in terms of belief. The intersection of religious objects (God, the Holy Spirit, Satan) and mutual obligations in the community produce what I refer to as the ‘faith network’. I trace these collective attachments to consider how ‘believing in’ regulates feeling in relation to situations of crisis, impasse, and tragedy. The combined efforts of my interlocutors, I suggest, created an active commitment that pulsated through the faith network, which sustained an intensive and defining mode of their relational experience.