About the Seminar
About the SpeakerDirk Tomsa is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. His main research interests include Indonesian and comparative Southeast Asian politics, especially electoral and party politics. He is the author of Party Politics and Democratization in Indonesia: Golkar in the post-Suharto era (Routledge, 2008) and co-editor (with Edward Aspinall and Marcus Mietzner) of The Yudhoyono Presidency: Indonesia’s Decade of Stability and Stagnation (ISEAS, 2015).
About the Seminar
Bugis Indonesians were long encouraged to informally emigrate to the East Malaysian state of Sabah as labourers, where they were readily assimilated as Malay-speaking Muslim members of the greater “Malay race". In recent years, however, these immigrants have been accused by Sabah’s ethnic Chinese and indigenous Christian groups of displacing “genuine Sabahans”. Bugis immigrants have been framed by these groups as instruments of attempts by the United Malays National Organization to augment the Malay population and re-engineer eastern Malaysia’s political demography. Opposition leaders and concerned Sabahans allege that hundreds of thousands of falsified national identity cards have been distributed to such immigrants, allowing them pass as citizens and illegally vote in elections for UMNO. Minority groups and opposition politicians claim that these illegal interlopers are difficult to distinguish from their “authentic," co-ethnic Malaysian counterparts due to a practical challenge: they look like locals, speak Malay, and carry fake IDs marking them as citizens. In response, state agents and concerned citizens have begun relying on a particular sensory modality — hearing or listening — in order to sort non-citizens from citizens.
This paper examines how state agents and concerned citizens are identifying illegal immigrants by virtue of their “foreign” or “awkward”-sounding Malay accents. So too, it addresses how undocumented Bugis immigrants are identifying, minimizing, and masking the out-of-place sounds in their Malay speech in order to more effectively pass as locals.
About the Speaker
Andrew M Carruthers is a linguistic and sociocultural anthropologist and a Visiting Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. His dissertation research centred on undocumented Indonesian labour migrants in the East Malaysian state of Sabah, evaluating how their assimilatory strategies are shifting amidst ongoing state crackdowns on illegal immigrants. His more recent work focuses on infrastructure and social dynamics of urban life in Makassar, Indonesia. He is the recipient of several grants and awards, including a Fulbright-Hays GPA grant, a Fulbright IIE research grant, and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology Graduate Prize. He holds a B.A. from Cornell, an M.Phil. from Yale, and receives his Ph.D. from Yale in May 2016.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Taomo Zhou is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University. Taomo received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, where she specialised in modern Chinese as well as modern Southeast Asian history. She has long-term interest in the nexus between international relations, migration, and political movements. Before entering Cornell, she studied at Peking University (B.A.), Waseda University (B.A.) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (M.Sc. with Distinction). Taomo has published two peer-reviewed journal articles on the interactions between China and Indonesia during the Cold War period: “Ambivalent Alliance: Chinese Policy towards Indonesia, 1960-1965” (in The China Quarterly) and “China and the Thirtieth of September Movement” (in Indonesia).
On 9 December 2015, Indonesia conducts its first simultaneous elections of regional leaders (Pilkada) in 263 regions across the archipelago. The simultaneous direct elections provide a close look at local politics, particularly at how parties manage the various elections in different regions, how candidates were nominated, and how voters decide. This presentation focuses on the elections in North Sumatera, North Sulawesi, and East Java. Regions in East Java are dynamic politically and economically, and the record of healthy competition between the various parties makes it important to observe. Regions in North Sumatra host a variety of ethnic and religious identities, which are influential during elections. North Sulawesi is a province that displays a high level of political fragmentation, competitiveness and participation. Manado, in particular, is one of the most important economic centers in Eastern Indonesia, and one of the few major cities in the archipelago with a predominantly Christian population in a Muslim-majority Indonesia.
This seminar will bring together findings and trends from these various regions, to build a better understanding of the current shape of local politics in Indonesia.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS