• Anugrah, Iqra

Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies & LP3ES

Scholars as Surplus-Value Appropriators: Reflection of Life in Scholarship and Activism

Scholars of social movements and other related topics in academia and activism are often seen as vanguards of intellectual rigor, moral integrity, and left-wing/left-liberal political sensibilities. As researchers of progressive causes, the trajectories of social movement scholars tend to be evaluated through a sympathetic lens: as direct participants or fellow travelers of the marginalized. Further, attempts to provide critical examinations of these socially-engaged scholars are sometimes eclipsed by the more pressing need to study the internal dynamics of social movements and their interactions with the broader political and economic structures and the prevailing social norms. Unfortunately, this approach overlooks the varied forms of agency of the scholars and their complex relationship with the very social forces and groups that they supposedly represent. Equally important, it masks the unequal relations between the intellectuals and the movements they engage with. A more sober approach in studying social movement scholars and their contradictory positions within the existing class relations and democratic class struggle is therefore needed. Employing a Marxian political economy perspective, this study seeks to investigate the not-so-hidden side of the scholarly profession: its rent-seeking, value-appropriating tendency. By looking at the political economy of social movement studies, the role played by scholars in the said field, and on-the-ground dynamics of social movement research and activism in Southeast Asia particularly Indonesia, I propose several tentative claims. First, the increasingly neoliberal research and cognitive sectors, which affect even the supposedly-progressive social movement studies, exacerbates the process of class differentiation among scholars and researchers of social movements. An increasing number of these scholars join the swelling rank of cognitariat, whereas a selected stratum becomes part of the professional-managerial class in academia and the development industry. Second, the latter becomes new intellectual brahmins who play a role as surplus-value appropriators who enjoy economic, cultural, and, to a lesser extent, political benefits from their position in the neoliberal research sector at the expense of precarious scholars and marginalized communities. Lastly, I interrogate my own position as an early-career researcher of Indonesian social movements, show my own complicity in the social movement research industrial complex and its profit motive, and reflect on possible ways out of this politico-intellectual impasse.


Iqra Anugrah is an Affiliated Researcher at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University and a Research Associate at the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Education, and Information (LP3ES). He has published on various aspects of Indonesian social movements and politics in PS: Political Science and Politics, Cornell University Press, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and Marjin Kiri, among others. His research has been supported by leading institutions such as the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Asia Manila Office. In his spare time, he edits for IndoProgress.

  • Brooten, Lisa & Swan Ye Htut

Lisa Brooten: Southern Illinois University, College of Arts and Media

Decolonize!: Reckoning with the Colonial Legacy of Burma Studies

The February 1, 2021 coup in Myanmar is an extreme manifestation of the wave of authoritarianism witnessed in recent years in Southeast Asia and elsewhere worldwide, and has spawned a slew of new reporting and analyses of Myanmar’s post-takeover situation. In response, a growing number of Burmese have been raising important questions and critiques of the historic and current influence of outsiders in defining the dominant narratives regarding their country – first due to foreign control of the country itself until its independence in 1948, and now due to the ongoing dominance of the wealthy, post-industrial nations in the production of global journalism, research and analysis of Myanmar for an international audience. These critical Burmese voices are calling for the decolonization of Myanmar studies, but also critiques of those writings and reports by foreign (especially Western) academics, parachute journalists and popular political analysts, who, they argue, lack recent experience in the country. These calls have been triggered by the disillusionment of many GenZ activists and young academics, and then taken up by others, regarding the discourses about their country they see circulating in academia and international news, and their anger at the lack of concerted action by the international community to support them in their struggle against the military junta.

Those calling for change are part of a global push for decolonization – emergent in some places and fields, well-established in others, absent in still others – that moves beyond the framework of postcolonial studies to center attention on issues of redistribution and retribution. How to help in these efforts was a question we struggled with in writing this piece. As a US academic conducting research for decades in Myanmar, and an emerging Burmese American scholar, we have approached this project as a way to interrogate our own positions in the academic project of Myanmar Studies. We believe it is a useful project to document some of what we see in this moment, so we make a modest contribution to forwarding the conversation by laying out the key academic discussions of decolonization, especially from Burmese academics, and then documenting and analyzing key themes circulating through broader, (English language) social media spheres that echo these academic calls. While popular media discussions might not use the term “decolonize” in their calls for change, what they do call for corresponds with many of the key demands of those working for decolonization, indicating that this is a phenomenon worthy of our attention, a phenomenon broader than the sum of its various participants.

We analyze several case studies in this paper of critical discussions of foreign influence over narratives being circulated globally about Myanmar. These critiques include responses to the parachute journalism trip of CNN’s Clarissa Ward into Myanmar about a month after the coup; the IEP’s problematic inclusion of Myanmar in its Global Terrorism Index; and a series of political analyses published in popular venues, in particular a controversial series of articles by analyst Anthony Davis, and two controversial articles in The Economist that generated a lot of social media discussion. The themes circulating in these critical discussions provide insight into this moment in Burma/Myanmar’s shifting historical identity, help identify new forms of allyship in the decolonizing project, and new ways of moving forward in efforts to promote a more inclusive, democratic Myanmar and contribute to the global push for a decolonized future.;

  • Rhodes, Jonathan

Chiang Mai University Faculty of Social Science – Director and Co-Founder of the Tea Leaf Center

LOCALIZING RESEARCH: Why localizing research matters and examples from the field

Local is often defined contextually and often in conflicting ways – from concepts of local governance to local culture, from local histories to local peoples, or from local knowledge to local research. Local can be bounded by spheres of power, influence, impact, or jurisdiction; as well as by shared histories, cultures, and geographic or temporal framings (Boonratana, 2010; Briffault, 1999; Cox and Mair, 1991; T.S. Elliot, 2010). Therefore, we conceptualize localized research as research led by those most affected by the research -such as grassroots organizations, social movements, and other affected communities. Localized research can play a crucial role in movements, and requires active participation from grassroots organizations, practitioners, and activists. Such movements can use research to support their advocacy, learn about issues of importance to them, and influence policy. Localizing research has been a common theme in development strategies across the globe, visible in arenas ranging from debates among academics to the increasing role of citizen scientists in research and policy (Karam and Afiouni, 2014; Mansuri and Rao, 2012). The goal of localizing research has been included in processes from SDG directional planning to project creation and research implementation (Fisher and Fukuda-Parr, 2019; Fox and Macleod, 2021). However, field experience has shown that despite progressive moves toward localizing research, unequal power dynamics within key aspects of the research process continue to prevent fully-localized research. In many cases, localization in practice is limited to using local data collectors or community consultations with little impact on the overall design and analysis of the research. In a truly localized research process, local researchers must lead all aspects including research design, analysis of data, and ethical review, among others. This panel highlights the importance of research capacity building for localized research, in the context of Burma and Burma-focused civil society, with a particular focus on why and how developing capacity beyond data gathering is important. In addition, the panel will discuss the importance of localized research in health, indigenous rights, and women’s empowerment as they relate to existing and changing forms of informal education movements in Burma. We argue that research at all levels benefits from the capacity building of local researchers and provides examples from the ground through panel participants in a variety of disciplines. By closely examining examples of localized research in diverse contexts, this panel provides support for and evidence for a new model of research collaboration and engagement that helps to justify research localization through research capacity building.

  • Erize Ladia, Charles

University of the Philippines Diliman, Department of Political Science

Queering local governments: LGBTQ+ movement organizations as strategic brokers for sexual citizenship in Philippine local governments

The advocacy for sexual citizenship in the Philippines has been arduous. This manifests in the decades-long assertion of the LGBTQ+ movement for the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill which penalizes discriminatory acts based on categories of sexuality and gender. But the last decade witnessed success in localizing anti-discrimination legislation through the passage of many cities and municipality ordinances. This political phenomenon created another space for LGBTQ+ organizations to assert sexual citizenship in government policy- and decision-making. This paper explores how these organizations broker for recognition, inclusion, and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Quezon City and Manila. Using focused-group discussions with LGBTQ+ movement organizations and strategic brokerage as an analytical frame, this paper finds that queering local governments observe a process where organizations proactively bridge the gap between communities and governments. Their roles as strategic brokers start with linking community concerns to state officials, networking with other organizations, translating LGBTQ+ narratives for local governments, and transacting with local officials. In the process of brokering, these organizations not only fight for sexual citizenship but maintain the civic space by capacitating local communities to initiate engagement and reminding the government of its responsibilities mandated by the ordinances. Amidst the many challenges in brokering, LGBTQ+ organizations continue to persist and resist in and beyond these new spaces of contention and collaboration.

Keywords: LGBTQ+ movement organization; sexual citizenship; strategic brokering; local government; Metro Manila

  • Tremlett, Paul-François

Dept of Religious Studies, School of Social Sciences and Global Studies, The Open University, UK

Transnational activism and the making and unmaking of moral publics

In this paper, I am interested in processes of composition, by which I mean processes whereby forms – in this case a counter public – come together. In 2019, IBON International and the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (UK) organised for relatives of the victims of President Duterte’s war on drugs to travel to meet members of the European Parliament as well as diasporic and other publics in Europe and the UK. At the same time, the play Tao Po! – Is Anybody There? – which is a dramatic monologue exploring the different perspectives of those involved in Duterte’s drug war including those of victims and perpetrators, was touring Europe. These activities were accompanied by social media posts on Twitter and Instagram among other platforms, using hashtags such as #Stopthekillings and #Warondrugs. This paper focuses on affect and mourning as a Filipino cultural idiom for addressing power, but also as a medium for the making of a moral public that was assembled across borders to bring pressure to bear on the Duterte regime. The objective of this paper is to theorize the role of affect and mourning in the making of this moral public in the context of secular, neoliberal modernity corrosive of moral action, and I draw on Emile Durkheim’s conception of contagious effervescence to do so.

Keywords: affect; moral public; Philippines; mourning; Durkheim
Paul-François Tremlett is a Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University. His
research interests include classical and contemporary anthropological and sociological theories
of religion and the broad constitution of religion as a site of inquiry in societies experiencing
rapid social change. He is the author of Towards a New Theory of Religion and Social Change:
Sovereignties and Disruptions (Bloomsbury 2020) and co-edited Ritual and Democracy: Protests,
Publics and Performances (Equinox, 2020). He also co-edits the Bloomsbury Series ‘Religion,
Space and Place’.

  • Iannone, Aniello

UNDIP, Departement of Politics and Governance

Protests in Southeast Asia: political instability in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines

Southeast Asia has seen a growing unliberal wave in the past years, especially in human rights violations, freedom of speech, and reforms of laws and constitutions that limit people’s freedom of expression and civil rights. In particular, in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the massive demonstrations and protests against the government have demonstrated an unclear political situation, especially in enacting laws that limit people’s freedom and fundamental rights. The protests in these countries result from illiberal policies, controversial political proposals, and violations of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression. In Indonesia, protests were seen between 2019 and 2022, including student movements against the government’s proposal to revise the penal code and the government’s more recent approval of the Omnibus Law. In the same period in Thailand, there were strong protests against the military junta for reforming the constitution. Moreover, in the Philippines, the e victory of Marcos Jr. in the presidency with Sara Duterte in the vice-presidency has sparked protests, especially among the civil rights movements in the country. Protests that have started in the Philippines, in particular during 2017 onwards, following various amendments and laws approved in the country, but also the repression and persecution of journalists undermining fundamental freedoms such as that of expression. This work aims to answer the following questions: are these countries suffering from a democratic deficit pushing them toward a more authoritarian regime? What role has these protests in defending democracy in those countries? This paper is based on desk-based research, secondary resources, and data collection through a literature review. Moreover, comparative analysis and historical analysis of the process which led to the protests in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, are adopted for analyzing the complexity and the political instability in those countries. Borrowing from the Neo-Marxist theories, the paper argues that the governments of these countries, through reforms and enactments of laws, seek to maintain dominion over society. The protests are the consequence of choices made by the state.

Keywords: Southeast Asian; Thailand Politics; Indonesia Politics; Philippines Politics


Aniello Iannone is an aspiring young researcher on Southeast Asian politics and international relations, in particular on
Indonesia. He collaborates with Think Tank and research institutes in Indonesia, Thailand and Italy. He holds a Political Science and International Relations degree, majoring in Southeast Asian from the Univerity of Napoli L’Orientale. Moreover, he has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Department of Politics and Governance at the University of Diponegoro (UNDIP) in Semarang city in Central Jawa, Indonesia. His study and research interests include analysis of democracy, economy, Islamic policy and international relations in Indonesia and South-East Asia.

  • Musikawong, Sudarat, Tammy Ko Robinson, Teeranong Sakulsri, Sopit Cheevapanich, Sirijit Sunanta, Suchada Thaweesit, Adisorn Kerdmongkol, Charamporn Holumyong, Semi Kwon, & Pichaiwat Saengprapan

Mahidol University, Institute for Population and Social Research

Transversals and Migrant Workers Rights: MMC Social Lab Inter-sectoral Dialogues and Alter-Politics

We discuss findings from Mahidol Migration Center ongoing Social Lab’s projects aimed at addressing complex challenges in Thailand’s labor migration, including shifting national-level discourse about migration policies and their implementation toward rights-based agendas currently excluded from national standard labor laws and migrant worker protections.  Our papers engage the potentials to co-produce knowledge, in the form of media engagements in Samut Sakhon Province and field research in Hua Hin Province that improve the socio-economic conditions and health challenges faced by both internal and international migrants under Covid-19 in the sectors of fisheries and tourism.

Gendered opportunities and constraints of low-end wellness and recreational tourism workers in Thailand- Sirijit Sunanta/ Mahidol University

Pedagogical Endeavors in Journalism Reporting on Migrant Workers in Samut Sakhon- Sudarat Musikawong/ Mahidol University, tammy ko robinson/ Hanyang University, Pichaiwat Saengprapan/ Chulalongkorn University


Sirijit Sunanta is an Associate Professor in the Multicultural Studies Program, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand.

Sudarat Musikawong is an Associate Professor at the Institute for Population and Social Research, Mahidol University, Thailand
(co-authors not able to join: Tammy Ko Robinson (School of Education Hanyang University), Pichaiwat Saengprapan (Chulalongkorn University Journalism)) ; ; ; ; ; ;

  • Alfaro, Ma. Rita Lourdes A.

Ateneo de Manila University, Department of History, School of Social Sciences

Prisoner rights and the Pandemic in the Philippines

What are the entitlements of an incarcerated person? The view that prisoners have human rights is a thought that escapes many. Although part of the state and legal punishment for the incarcerated person is the deprivation of his or her civil rights, every prisoner, or every person for that matter, retains his or her human rights. Every person’s rights, specifically his human rights, must be protected by local and international laws. However, despite local and international instruments, Philippine society continues to violate the human rights of prisoners. This is through a lack of interest, open or implicit neglect, and disregard for the human rights of prisoners. Is it easy to say that the violation of their human rights is due to hardship, poverty, or lack of legal or state protection? This research will examine the dynamics of the current prison system and prisoner rights as the Philippines face problems compounded by the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic further looking at access to food and basic commodities, access to government social services, specifically vaccination and medical services, access to space in crumbling jail structures. These are just a few of the issues that will be explored in this research that seeks to reveal that human rights are for everyone and for all time.

Keywords: Philippine prisons; Prisoners’ rights; Philippine penology


Ma. Rita Lourdes A. Alfaro is a holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in History conferred by the University of the Philippines Diliman and a Bachelor of Laws by Far Eastern University Manila. Her research interests focus on history, women’s history, criminality, human rights, penology and the justice system. She was an Intern at the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center in Japan in 2005 and in 2006 was a Court Legal Researcher for the Regional Trial Court of Manila. She currently teaches History at the Ateneo de Manila University and presently pursuing a Master’s degree in History at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

  • Cruz-Claudio, Valerie May M.

Ateneo de Manila University, History Department

Constitutional Rights, Crimes and Cruelty: The Filipino Woman in Selected Laws and Jurisprudence from the Third Republic to the Present

This research aims to show how selected Philippine laws and jurisprudence can be used as primary sources in historical research. In particular, about the Filipino woman, who is prone to abuse, discrimination, and harassment. Despite these, the Filipino woman was an active agent of her history from the early times such as the case of the babaylan and katalonan, the katipunera during the Philippine Revolution, the suffragette during the Commonwealth; and woman guerilla during World War II. Laws and jurisprudence introduced by the Spaniards and the Americans such as the Codigo Civil that later became the Civil Code of the Philippines and Codigo Penal that later became the Revised Penal Code made the Filipino woman an object of laws and placed her legal personality insubordinate to a Filipino man. Jurisprudence also made the Filipino woman subject to customs and stereotyping. The Philippine Commonwealth opened the door for Filipino woman’s political participation through the Suffrage Bill. After World War II from being an object of the laws, she slowly became an author of her own laws. This is reflected in the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, the Family Code and other special laws such as the Magna Carta of Women and Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Law. By taking a closer look at some of these laws one can understand both the obstacles and triumphs that a Filipino woman had to overcome to be considered a partner from the perspective of law and jurisprudence in building the nation.

Keywords: history; laws; jurisprudence; women; legislation


Valerie May M. Cruz-Claudio is a full-time instructor from the History Department of Ateneo de Manila University. She graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman Departmento ng Kasaysayan with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in History. She is currently enrolled in their Ph.D. Program. She taught Philippine History at San Beda College Alabang where she also holds a law degree. In 2013, she co-founded the Environmental Law Society. Her field of research interests is local history, biography and intellectual history. For her MA thesis she researched about the “Talambuhay at Kasaysayang Intelektwal ni Camilo Osias.” She is also doing research about the local history of her hometown, Olongapo. Currently, she is writing about the life and works of a Filipina intellectual, Dr. Josefa M. Saniel and the history of Philippine laws and jurisprudence on women during the contemporary period of Philippine History.

  • Atik Catur Budiati & Dwi Winarsih

Atik Catur Budiati: Department of Sociology and Anthropology Education, Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, Universitas Sebelas Maret, Indonesia

Dwi Winarsih: Centre de Recherches en Histoire Internationael et Atlantique (CRHIA) – Département Langue Etrangères Appliquées, La Rochelle Université – France

“Solo Mengajar”. Community social platform for education in underprivileged urban areas in Solo – Indonesia

Surakarta, better known as Solo, is an Indonesian city that has a reputation for its social movements. We often refer to its local political atmosphere as a barometer of national political turmoil. Historically indeed, some of Solo’s social agents have played an important role throughout the Indonesian independence movement. During the Orde Baru era, we can mention some activists from Solo as militant opposition to authoritarian regimes. Today, the digital environment has reshaped the social movement in Solo. The internet and social media have encouraged Solo’s activists to build such virtual social spaces. The Solo Mengajar is one example. This social movement was born from the commitment of several academics and activists to reduce educational inequality in urban spaces. In this paper, we will discuss how the creation of a virtual Solo teaching community since 2010 has brought changes to the collective consciousness or only become awareness to gain instant popularity. Our study shows that the establishment of this community social platform has encouraged solidarity as it has been able to mobilize young people to teach in an underprivileged area, such as urban slums. ;

  • Sumilong, Marielle Justine C.

Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines Diliman

The Intersubjectivity and Rhetorical Constitution of #LigtasNaBalikEskwela (Safe Return to Schools)

School closures following the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated inequities and inequalities among students in the Philippine basic and higher educational system. The shift to remote learning modalities necessitated access to reliable technology, stable internet connectivity, and comfortable learning environments —things only available to the privileged few. #LigtasNaBalikEskwela was a youth social movement initiated by various Filipino student organizations advocating for their safe and inclusive return to physical classrooms. The initiative has since then become an online democratic campaign as it considered the welfare of students, teachers, and school staff in calling on government educational stakeholders for long-term, sustainable plans of action. This study dissects how the #The LigtasNaBalikEskwela movement reflects and intersects prevalent structures of oppression and privilege among the Filipino youth and in Philippine society. Although gaps in the educational system have existed pre-pandemic, the sorry state of Philippine education aggravated by a global health crisis foregrounded the fragility of Philippine democracy. This study expounds on Filipino students’ constitutive efforts –through the online social movement– to demonstrate and call out systemic and societal issues of public health, literacy, social services, and provision of basic human rights. Acknowledging the interplay of influence and identification in online campaigns, this study also examines the rhetorical nuances of the movement from the perspective of audiences as co-meaning-makers.

Keywords: constitutive rhetoric; youth social movements; Filipino student organizations; intersubjectivity

Biography: Marielle Justine Ching Sumilong [she/her] is an instructor and a graduate student at
the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts,  University of the Philippines
Diliman where teaches public speaking and instructional communication. Her research interests
include instructional communication and design, intercultural communication, and  rhetorical
performances of cultural, religious, and youth groups. She has presented her research work in
Virginia Polytechnic University (USA), Universidad de Còrdoba (Spain), Universiti Malaya, Kuala
Lumpur (Malaysia) and in several Philippine academic conferences.

  • Thanh Thanh, Phan 

Institute of Human Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Farmer Resistance through the lens of social movement: A Case of Agricultural Land Conversion in Peri-Urban Hanoi

The paper will explore the specific cases of farmers’ resistance in the peri-urban areas in Hanoi, Vietnam. To be able to understand the case study, theories of rightful resistance, civil disobedience, and social movement will be applied in the article. The paper’s overall aim is to answer the research questions (1) how do farmers resist agricultural land conversion and why are there different forms of resistance? and (2) how does the resistance turn into rights claim of farmers and if it leads to regime change? In terms of methodology, data were collected from both secondary and primary sources. The secondary sources provided in the article include academic books, journal articles and online media on prominent cases of land protests due to the conversion of agricultural land in peri-urban Hanoi in the recent 10 years. On the primary source, data collection follows an anthropological approach by case study via qualitative interviews namely key informant interviews with different informants such as farmers as resistors, lawyers and academics to further understand how farmers resist the agricultural land conversion. The main arguments of the paper are (1) farmers’ strategies are varied both from formal to informal forms of actions to influence public opinion as well as political and legal decisions of the Party and the State. (2) Claim for land rights goes beyond social economic rights namely the rights to livelihood and civil political rights namely rights to information and participation without changing the system. In terms of contributions, (1) this article contributes to the field methods of collecting data for sensitive topics in a relatively closed context in authoritarian states. (2) It is a value added to the existing literature on farmers’ resistance studies in Vietnam. (3) The article also contributes theoretically by applying interdisciplinary theories to synthesize farmers’ resistance in Vietnam. This research is of theoretical significance in terms of qualitative research on the land protests at the grass root level.

Keywords: agricultural land conversion, farmer resistance, social movement, human rights, peri-urban, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Biography: Phan Thanh Thanh –Institute of Human Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences
Phan Thanh Thanh is a full-time researcher at the Institute of Human Studies, Vietnam Academy
of Social Sciences (VASS). Her study focuses on human rights, human security, and
development.  Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace
Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University, Thailand. Her research topic is on land law, agricultural
land conversion, and farmer resistance in Vietnam. She earned her Master’s degree in Social
Science (International Development) from the Regional Center for Social Science and
Sustainable Development (RCSD), Chiang Mai University, Thailand, and her Bachelor’s degree
in Sociology from the Academy of Journalism and Communication, Vietnam.

  • Wiryawan, Bangkit A.; Wijayanto; Budiati, Aisyah Putri

Bangkit A. Wiryawan & Wijayanto: Department of Politics and Governement (LP3ES)

Aisyah Putri Budiati: National Research and Innovation Agency of Indonesia and Kyoto University

Dinasti politik and welfare depreciation in Indonesia: Evidence from natural experiment following the third round of district election 2015 – 2017

Following the third round of Indonesia’s district election between 2015 and 2017, a substantial number of elected local leaders with family ties to the previous governing elites started to emerge. The popular Indonesian term for this, dinasti politik, is defined as a narrow circulation of the governing elite centered around the same ruling family. This study aims to investigate the welfare impact of district political dynasties covering 17 out of 26 identified cases. We use each district’s closest neighbors, which do not exhibit the phenomenon, as the control group. We find that most of the districts experience lower income growth, ranging from the mild 0.23 percent drop in Batu City to the severe 2.29 percent drop in Landak District, with the main exception is Central Maluku District. We also observe that in general, the growth depreciation continues longer under the political dynasties. Our finding substantiates the current debate on democratic stagnation in Indonesia and calls for an alternative approach ahead of the country’s upcoming wave of local elections in 2024. To gain wider attention we propose three sequential steps to be done within one year (1) forge stronger collaboration between key stakeholders, (2) mass civic education through mainstream as well as alternative channels, and (3) organize class action to demand regulatory change.

Keywords: political dynasty, elite capture, local election, decentralization, democracy, welfare growth

  • Tho Seeth, Amanda & Jafar Suryomenggolo

Amanda tho Seeth: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg, Germany.
Jafar Suryomenggolo: Jeonbuk National University Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (JISEAS), Korea; Centre Asie du Sud-Est (CASE), Paris, France.

Politics of Marginality in Contemporary Indonesia

Indonesia entered the 21st century after a quick yet bloody regime change in 1998. Reformasi has paved the way for the reconfiguration and improvement of Indonesia’s institutions to support economic growth. However, as succeeding governments have failed to regulate the redistribution of wealth after democratization, Indonesia is now faced with the double challenges of uncontainable urbanization and rising inequality.In this panel, we seek to explore the intersection of issues related to inequality and social position in the context of massive social, political and economic transformations underway in Indonesia. We are interested on how subaltern communities experience their daily lives shaped by the economic changes, and the rise of right-based mobilization as shaped by democratization. It includes issues related to urban squatter and the “right to the city”, agrarian violence and the rights of peasants, marginalized identities, and social movements. ;

Keywords: Urbanization, Right to the City, Social Transformation, Subaltern Communities,

  • Mark Philip Stadler

Urban Poor Activism in Jakarta: Civil Societies’ Struggles against the Urban Capitalist Hegemony & Authoritarian-Populist Urbanism
Jakarta and its satellite cities constitute one of the most densely populated megalopolitan areas in the world, with some 32 million inhabitants as of 2020. The urban area is home to a community of ever-growing poor peoples’ neighborhoods whose life and survival is more than only a question of mere existence. It is where urban-poor activism is at home and attempting to change the conditions of the neighborhood communities for the better. Urban poor activism is a form of avant-garde activism in response to the ever-growing pressure on the urban poor population. The varied activist responses to structural problems and threats suffered by the urban poor as well as activist initiatives to eradicate the rampant problematic of urban poverty itself – summarized as activist struggles – is the core focus of this presentation, which includes life, survival and thrive of the activists themselves. The presentation’s analysis maps the potential political and economic agency of urban poor activism, and follows the trajectories of the activist groups and their struggles. Moreover, urban poor activism’s role in civil-society-to-government relations as well as the power struggles vis-à-vis “the urban capitalist hegemony” in economic urban life and “authoritarian-populist urbanism” (both Gramsci-inspired) in urban politics is scrutinized. Last but not least, the presentation looks at initiatives where urban poor activists join forces with social movements, unions, and political parties etc. to increase their potential political role. Urban poor ‘problems’ include but are not limited to unclear housing/tenure status, lack of democratic/cultural participation, limited or no access to labor market, education, urban infrastructure, resources like water, gas and electricity, and higher exposure to local epidemics and global pandemics, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, as well as increased vulnerability to climate change. Claiming the ‘right to the city’ is part and parcel of the struggle of urban poor activism. Urban politics is on a relative rise in relation to national governmental politics. Urban (poor) activism, therefore, has the potential to change policy-making beyond the reach of urban policy.

Biography: Mark Philip Stadler is currently finalizing a PhD on Urban Poor Activism in Jakarta at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Recently he commenced a Master of Theology (MTh) at the Philipps University of Marburg, Germany. He holds two Master degrees from the University of Leiden – a Research Master (MA) in Southeast Asian Studies and a Master of Science (MSc) in Public Administration with a focus on International Administration. He has studied and worked in Singapore, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

  • Ferdiansyah Thajib

Transwomen’s right to the city: an oral history of waria’s self-organising in Yogyakarta

In this presentation, I explore the dynamics of transwomen’s self-organising through the lens of Kebaya foundation and the community which has grown up around it. Kebaya or Keluarga Besar Waria Yogyakarta is a waria NGO which is founded in 2006 first as a community response to rising HIV epidemics in the city. The organisation has initially been working on HIV prevention and later on also operated as a shelter for underprivileged people living with HIV. This presentation draws from oral history interviews which is initiated by Benjamin Hegarty, Amalia Puri Handayani and myself and conducted as participatory action research with members of Kebaya and the broader waria community in Yogyakarta from across generations. Themes addressed in the presentation include the research protagonists’ collective memory of HIV/AIDS; the centrality of ethics of intersectional care in their activism; and their struggle for claiming social recognition in the city while moving beyond identity-based politics. This presentation also looks at the connections and frictions of waria self-organising with a wider network of civil society organisations and formal institutions. The latter includes academics, health providers and legal-public administrations such as the social office of the provincial government which support the running of Kebaya shelters, the local population and the civil registry office for procuring KTP or national ID card and other government officials. The preliminary findings demonstrate that Kebaya has evolved into a focal point for not only the flourishing landscape of rights activism for social justice but also advocacy works in the redistribution of care and economic security amidst increasingly hostile marginalisation of people with alternative sexualities and gender expressions in post-Reformasi Indonesia.

Biography: Ferdiansyah Thajib is a member of KUNCI Study Forum and Collective, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is also a lecturer in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the Elite’s Master Program Standard of Decisions-Making across Cultures (SDAC), Friederich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.

  • Veronika Kusumaryati

West Papua’s Slow Revolution: Social Transformation and Feminization of Poverty among the Indigenous Papuans

This presentation aims to explore the impact of local migration among the indigenous Papuans of the Central Highlands in Indonesia’s easternmost and marginalized province of Papua. While
migration has been seen as one of the main drivers of socio- ecological transformation in urban space, its impacts in rural areas have been poorly understood. Focusing on the shift of Papuan
livelihoods and the re-organization of agriculture in the rural Highlands, this study discusses how migration has led to the feminization of poverty among the Papuans, and how women devise strategies of survival amidst a slow but radical social transformation going on in their

Biography: Veronika Kusumaryati is Postdoctoral Researcher at Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University (USA).

  • Choir, Mifachul

Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University

Neoliberal Governmentality and the Depoliticization of Anti-Corruption Movement in Indonesia

Since the political reformation in 1998, international donors such as World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Australian Aid have channeled funds toward the proliferation of professional civil society organizations (CSOs) in Indonesia. As a result, CSOs have contributed to policy-making, raising democratic values and citizens’ rights to the Indonesian public and holding capacity building for fellow CSOs. Despite their contribution, scholars have argued that CSOs were merely a social movement, rather than a political movement. Contrary to the works of CSOs in the New Order era that pushed for political reformation. Drawing from the core framing tasks perspective, this research will see how the CSOs framed the political-corruption problem in Indonesia and see how did the international donors influence the CSOs’ framing of the problem. This research found the neoliberal rationalities brought by the international donors through the vertical accountability mechanism caused the CSOs to frame political corruption as a good governance problem which resulted in CSOs tending to become service providers for the government, promoting rational consensus rather than challenging the discourse and become an entrepreneurial actor for funding. To complete the task, this research will sample the two anti-corruption CSOs, Transparency International Indonesia (TII) and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), and investigate how they diagnose, prognosis, and encourage public participation as well as analyze the discourse contained in their program proposal and annual report.

Keywords: civil society organization, core framing tasks, neoliberal governmentality, international donors, political-corruption


Mifachul Choir is a postgraduate student at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University. Prior to his study, Miftachul also worked as a political-corruption CSO, Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) where he published reports on the conflict of interest cases in Indonesia such as on the coal mining industry, specialized economic zone, and Covid-19 management. Miftachul also published an article on Indonesian foreign policy in the Journal of Global Strategic Studies (JGSS).

  • Laoera, Bruce Dame

Doctoral School of Humanities, Jagiellonian University, Poland

The Engagement of Indonesian Student Movements on Instagram: Mapping the Rhizome in Media Ecology

Numerous social movements led by youth have affected societal transformation in the modern era. As a matter of fact, the youth movement has been one of the focal elements in achieving democracy in a number of nations. Since the emergence of the internet, activism and movements have expanded to the digital sphere through social media platforms. Students can easily access information regarding social activism and participate the rallies or movements. Moreover, the advanced technology of new media has already changed the nature of mass communications from the passive transmission of information to something interactive that enables people to exercise their right of expression (Ganjanakhundee, 2020). Youth and students may use social media to not only discuss their ideas and thoughts on social issues but also to organize movements. The activism and movements, mostly promoted by university students, played a significant part in Soeharto’s 1998 resignation (New Order) in Indonesia. Indonesian university students had conducted rallies and protests on a variety of subjects, the majority of which were directed toward the government. However, the student movement has been largely neglected in the scholarship on Indonesian politics, civil society, and social movements (Sastramidjaja, 2016). Indonesian student organizations, in the form of Students Executive Boards (Badan Eksekutif Mahasiswa- BEM), actually contribute to the political changes where students can provide aspirations and contestations on the government’s policies. Moreover, many of political issues are being defied by student organizations and they are continuously being a part of criticizing the policies and regulations, especially via social media like Instagram. Theoretical Framework The use of social media platforms by plenty of student organizations in Indonesia to spread activism to criticize the government’s policies can be investigated by analyzing their narratives and mapping their strategies in conducting social movements. Through social media like Instagram, they can easily create networks with other organizations and persuade the audience to participate in the rallies or movements. The rhizomatic connectivity forms an assemblage that is driven by four principles outlined by Deleuze and Guattari, connectivity, heterogeneity, multiplicity, and signifying rupture (Lim, 2017). The dissemination rhizome is essentially a realm of affective transduction between a mass of people, where intensities housed in short thoughts, images, little turns of phrases, music, videos, speech, etc. are in constant circulation, flowing to, from, within, and between bodies (Monea, 2012). The rhizomatic approach to community media allows seeing how media and civil society networks are connected with other (non-media) civil society organizations and social movements (Carpentier, 2016). Moreover, in this term, the digital sphere has become the fertile field of plenty of “bodies” to reproduce the notions and contestations towards the unjust and unfairness within their activism. Research Question 1. What are the characteristics of the political narratives of Student Executive Boards (BEM) on social media (Instagram)? 2. How can rhizomatic strategies provide students to navigate movements on a combination of individual and collective levels in the digital sphere? Methodology To answer the questions, the author will observe the Instagram posts shared by the Indonesian Student Executive Boards’ account which is @bem_si. Bemsi is the abbreviation of Badan Eksekutif Mahasiswa Seluruh Indonesia (Alliance of all Indonesian Students Executive Boards). From the posts that they have shared on Instagram, I will focus on the political narrative, actors, and movement practices within the Instagram platform. By using qualitative analysis, I will also investigate the rhizomatic strategies which navigate the students’ movements based on a combination of their collective actions. As a matter of fact, collective actions and youth movements can be a process of finding cultural and historical answers to political questions (Ruiz, 2015). For the scope of limitations, this paper will only analyze the content of their shared posts on Instagram between January 2020 – April 2022 during Jokowi’s second presidential term. In order to acknowledge the mapping of the student movement’s participation, engagement, motives, and agenda, the author only focuses on the movements that happened within that period. Keywords: Engagement, Instagram, Media ecology, Rhizome, Student movement, Youth.

Keywords: Engagement, Instagram, Media ecology, Rhizome, Student movement, Youth


Bruce Dame Laoera is a first-year of PhD Student in the Doctoral School of Humanities at Jagiellonian University, Poland. Currently, her PhD research focuses on Digital Activism and Social Movements in Indonesia. Moreover, she has conducted, published, and presented several pieces of research involving Media, Culture, Film, and Gender studies. For two and half years, she lived in Chiang Rai to teach English Communication at Mae Fah Luang University.

  • Calvin Ho

Phd student, Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong

Tool of empowerment and liberation: Kalimantan Credit Union Movement

Credit Union (Koperasi Kredit) is a realization of the impactful social movement to break the structural marginalization and impoverishment among the Dayak indigenous communities of Kalimantan, Indonesia. First introduced in Indonesia by Pater Karl Albrecht Karim Arbie, SJ, on 4 January 1970 through the Credit Union Counselling Office, the earliest wave of credit unions is marked by the introduction of credit unions in West Kalimantan in Catholic parishes through learning and experimentation, with active support by Catholic church officials. The expansion became more significant through Pancur Kasih Social Work Foundation, founded in 1981 by a group of young Catholic activists. The foundation focused on the Dayaks’ social, education, and economic condition in West Kalimantan. The foundation realized that what kept Dayaks from failing in pursuing education was a lack of funds or financial difficulties. Thus the foundation developed a community economic empowerment movement by establishing the Pancur Kasih Credit Union in 1987. The development principle of the credit union movement focuses more on the quality growth of the community and members than the institution itself. The credit union has a professional manager and practices financial management like banks and insurance agencies within a cooperative framework. Its aim is not merely solidarity but also capital accumulation—the members must grow to expand the savings and credit base—and it can finance professional staff and operational costs. As of 2021, West Kalimantan has 2987 credit unions with 1.2 million members and total assets of Rp 5.24 trillion (US$360 million). Three decades of Pancur Kasih have made the credit union the symbol of empowerment of indigenous people in Kalimantan, contributing a role in providing information, motivation, and awareness to village communities in the overall effort to bring about empowerment.

Keywords: Indigenous Movement; Credit Union; Microcredit; Development; and Social Justice.


Calvin is an Indonesian citizen based in Bali and Jakarta. He graduated with a master’s degree in Politics from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China in 2018. He finished his bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Universitas Indonesia, Depok, in 2013. Calvin’s particular interest is in political science and social issues. He was involved in related work experience at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Jakarta as a Macroeconomist from 2014 to 2015. As a researcher, He provided data and due diligence on Indonesia’s macroeconomic policies and political dynamics in Indonesia and ASEAN states to the Ambassador and his staff. He also briefly served as a a journalist for a local TV station in Jakarta, BeritaSatu TV, in 2014, covering Indonesian politics, economy, and culture. He also actively engages in a wide range of local and regional social movements. He currently lives in Hong Kong as a Ph.D. student at the Policy and International Affairs, City University of Hong Kong. His research is about comparative tribal marginalization and empowerment in Indonesia: Case Studies Dayaks and Papuans, supervised by Dr. Diego Fossati. ;

  • Pham Thi, Ahn-Susann

Political Science Department, Bilkent University, Ankara Turkey

Dissident Catholics in Vietnam

The Vietnamese Communist Party has accepted the Catholic Church as a legitimate institution, while ordinary Vietnamese enjoy the freedom of religious practice and religious expression. Political dissent, however, is considered a threat to the party-state’s legitimacy, for which especially Catholics have been regularly prosecuted. This paper invites us to think about the counter-hegemonic force of religious activists as a critique of the given state-society relations and thus, reconsider the intersectional dialogue between Marxism and Catholicism in Vietnam. Based on original research, this paper shows how two different generations of Catholic dissidents changed their political praxis from a dialogical approach to an anti-Communist Party position, while both constituted a crucial counter-hegemonic force that criticized existing forms of exploitation, oppression, and state control. This research required the researcher to defamiliarize herself with dominant narratives about Catholic dissidents. As a result, this paper argues that the relationship between dissident Catholics and Marxism/Communism has been shaped by concrete state-society relations of the given times, and in this context, by the changing social position of the VCP.

  • Kusuma, Bayu Mitra A.

PhD student, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

L’ultimo Ultras: When Italian Movie Inspiring the Progressive Women’s Football Fans Movement in Indonesia

Indonesia is not a country with a strong football tradition if judged by its achievements. Domestic competition that is influenced by political manipulation adds to the blurry face of Indonesian football. But behind all these dark sides, there is one aspect that makes many players challenged to compete in Indonesia, namely the fans. The fans’ fanaticism is amazing, but unfortunately often expressed in various negative actions such as racism, riot, and physical violence that lead to death. Brutality creates a stigma that being a football fan in Indonesia is only for masculine men. In these situations, a women’s fans group emerges and changes the football fans’ landscape. They are Ladies Curva Sud (LCS), fans of PSS Sleman Football Club which were founded based on inspiration from the Italian movie L’ultimo Ultras. This study aims to reveal how L’ultimo Ultras influenced the LCS movement in changing the Indonesian football fans’ image using resource mobilization theory as an analytical tool. In this theory, the term mobilization refers to a contextual process consisting of mass formation to achieve certain goals. The research results show that: First, LCS is a form of progressive football fans’ social movement initiated by educated youth women. The term curva sud is taken from the Italian language which means south stands. Second, LCS leadership is collective which is bound in the manifesto no leader just together. They organize members in an ultras style but abandon the culture of violence. Third, LCS is a financially independent organization. Their income is obtained from the sale of merchandise with ultras distinctive colors and characters. Fourth, LCS has a strong and wide network among students, especially universities in the Yogyakarta Special Province area. Fifth, LCS has changed people’s views on football fans’ image, from brutality to creativity, from masculinity to gender equality.

Keywords: Italian Movie, Indonesian Football, Progressive Fans, Educated Youth Women, LCS


Bayu Mitra A. Kusuma is a Student at the Ph.D. Program in Asia Pacific Regional Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. He holds a Bachelor of Public Administration and Master of Public Administration from the Faculty of Administrative Science, University of Brawijaya, Indonesia. Then he earned his second master’s degree in Political Science (Security Studies) from the Faculty of Political Science and Law, Burapha University, Thailand. Since 2015, he has been a Faculty Member at the Faculty of Da’wah and Communication, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, Indonesia. His research interests include issues of public policy, state-society relations, and international studies.

  • Kurniati, Erni

Graduate student at State Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta Indonesia; Junior researcher at Division for Applied Social Psychology Research; Junior researcher at Lab. Bantenologi State Islamic University Sultan Maulana Hasanudin Banten Indonesia

Why does dating damage? Discourse analysis through the Instagram account of Indonesia Tanpa

Indonesia Without Dating Movement (Indonesia Tanpa Pacaran) is a religion-based movement initiated by La Ode Munafar in September 2015. This movement is active in cyberspace, online, (such as on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook), and offline activities, which attracts many young Indonesian Muslims to follow this movement as the phenomenon of migration (hijrah) that occurred in Indonesia. This article aims to analyze the narratives used by the official account of the Indonesia Without Dating Movement on Instagram that promotes an ideology to return to Al-Qur’an teachings. Since its establishment, as of April 2022, this movement has had 15 active branches throughout Indonesia which are tracked through Instagram accounts. Based on online research and discourse analysis, this article highlights (1) the narratives used in Instagram accounts from the period January 2022 to March 2022 in framing propaganda to invite the public against dating (pacaran), (2) the narratives used other than against dating, such as da’wah in Islamic teachings that invite people to be more religious, and (3) the visual images to propagate the ideology of against dating that entertain young Indonesian Muslims. Thus, I argue that the propagandas show that Indonesia Without Dating Movement is a reaction to modernism (dating) which is seen as damage to the moral, political, and social aspects.

  • Minanto, Ali

Ph.D student at Department Media Studies, Charles University, Czeck Republic

Street Art as Creative Social Movement: the Practice of Street Art in Yogyakarta in the Post-Soeharto Era

This research deals with street art as a creative social movement in the post-authoritarian era in Indonesia. As public art -that uses public space as its gallery- street art in Indonesia, especially in Yogyakarta, is never absent from the social, economic, political, and cultural issues (Lupinsek, 2017; Barry, 2008). Street art in Yogyakarta has been embroiled in socio-political momentum by offering various discourses, specifically in an urban context. By using multiple mediums and techniques, this art provides an alternative point of view on urban issues. Therefore, street art is not solely produced aesthetic visuality but a new social movement. This research investigates how street art in Yogyakarta triggers creative social movement (?). This research employs several theoretical approaches, namely relational aesthetic (Nicolas Bourriaud), The Practice of Everyday Life (Michel de Certeau), and New Social Movement (Alain Touraine & Alberto Melluci). Bourriaud (1998) shows that contemporary art practice is quite close and never excluded from social context. According to Certeau (1984), there is an essential critical distinction between strategies and tactics in this battle of repression and expression in The Practice of Everyday Life. Tourine (1981) focuses on “the collective action of actors” who resist the social control of historicity and cultural orientation. This research conducts a literature study and interviews with several street artists, such as Samuel Indratma (Apotik Komik) and Anagard.

Keywords: Street Art, Relational Aesthetic, Practice of Everyday Life, Creative Social Movement, Yogyakarta


Ali Minanto is a Ph.D. student at Department Media Studies, Charles University, Czeck Republic. He is also a lecturer at the Department of Communications, Islamic University of Indonesia. As a lecturer, he has carried out research and community service, as well as published books and papers for academic journals and conferences, both at a national and international level. His academic interests focus on visual issues in culture, cultural and media studies, multiculturalism, and politics. He is a producer and researcher for several documentary movies such as ‘New modes of environmental communication: Four street art experiments’, The Fighter, Balada Kampung Naga (the Ode of Dragon Village), Bulan Sabit di Kampung Naga (The Cresent in Dragon Village), and Mata Air Mata: the Tale of Water. He is also a facilitator for photography workshops for rural youth communities.

  • Abdul Rahman, Serina

Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

Producing new knowledge while empowering a community: treading a fine line between scholar-activism and community intervention

The co-creation of new knowledge through the combination of traditional ecological knowledge collation and citizen science is a tool through which a community can be empowered to help itself cope with impending and irreversible change. This paper reflects on my personal experience as a researcher deeply involved in community organising in a rural fishing village in southwest Johor, Malaysia. My accidental scholar-activism comes as a result of 14 years immersed in this community, initially as a facilitator for an environmental club, which then evolved into a locally-led grassroots organisation working to enable the community to participate in and benefit from the development encroaching onto their neighbourhood and natural habitats. With no initial intention to remain and engage with this community to such an extent, my work progressed from environmental education to mobilising and capacity-building the community to become their own voice to overcome restrictive power structures and ensure social justice. I used my position as a researcher to maintain an objective ‘distance’ from my community subjects as I studied their ‘progress’, while providing them with access to resources, networks and materials, as well as to amplify their work through story-telling and publications in myriad media. While this work was borne of my ‘desire to make a difference’, I constantly question the wisdom of my providing the community with a vision that they may never be able to actually achieve, and the contravention of gender norms and conservative cultural expectations.

Keywords: scholar-activism, community empowerment, traditional ecological knowledge, social justice, citizen science


Serina Rahman teaches environmental politics at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, NUS. Her research encompasses (un)sustainable development, rural politics, climate change impacts on coastal communities, and political ecology. The rest of her life is taken up by Kelab Alami, a community organisation that she co-founded in 2008 to help the people of Mukim Tg Kupang, Johor, participate in and benefit from urbanisation. Trained as a conservation scientist, her practice is in community empowerment for habitat conservation, the study of marine human-habitat interactions, and sustainable fisheries management. She has a PhD in Science from UiTM (Malaysia) and a Masters in Applied Linguistics from the University of Wales, Cardiff. Serina is an Iskandar Malaysia Social Hero Award Winner for Environmental Protection, and was highlighted by Channel News Asia as an Asian Climate Warrior.

  • Wiratraman, Herlambang

Faculty of Law, Universitas Gadjah Mada, LP3ES

Politics of Student Press Journalism: Struggle for Press Freedom and Academic Freedom

A number of studies on Indonesia’s student press journalism have been carried out, and the activities of their movements have a significant influence on social movements in Indonesia (Moh. Fathoni, et al, 2012; AE Siregar 1983; Didik Supriyanto 1998). This article is based on research to understand the politics of the student press journalism movement, especially those students who join the national-based of Indonesian Student Press Association (PPMI). The association has members and a large network on various campuses in Indonesia. KIKA as a movement alliance for academic freedom, since 2018 has created a special task force to defend the student press journalism movement. In the records of the PPMI National Advocacy Program (2020), there were 58 types of repression from 33 cases of repression against the student press during 2017-2019. The most common type of repression experienced by the student press was intimidation, with a total of 20 times. The other cases were related to beatings (eight times), threats of ‘dropping out’ (four times), criminalization (four times), and kidnapping (three times). The repression has been constantly repeated and also shows systemic impunity. The root of the problem is the lack of recognition of the right to express opinions. While there is no specific legal mechanism to protect them. On the other hand, campuses often downplay the issue by accusing them of student press journalism activities as a form of defamation of the campus. When the student press criticizes, the campus does not want to accept such criticism is a legal form of protecting freedom of expression. In the midst of such pressure, PPMI seeks to encourage a more protective legal framework, especially in protecting press freedom and academic freedom. This study employs an interdisciplinary approach. It aims to explain how student press journalism actually fights for freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and academic freedom. To what extent does the effectiveness of the movement mean that it produces success? How do they connect their press activities to larger strategic social movements on the ground, especially in the context of Indonesia’s declining democracy? 

Keywords: student press journalism, PPMI, democracy, social movement, academic freedom

  • 3 representatives of Network for Girls

Network for Girls in Myanmar brings together girls and young women from diverse communities across the country to equip girls with the skills, confidence and support system needed to navigate their changing landscape by increasing their access to new potential social, political and economic benefits, while avoiding the growing number of pitfalls related to increased exposure.

As girls and young women in the country struggle to achieve their potential, access to schooling has been disrupted by both the COVID-19 public health concerns and the political and economic instability after the military takeover of government institutions in 2021. Young women researchers from NFGM (Network for Girls Myanmar) wanted to better understand the realities for girls around education such as the current schooling rate , how the girls are impacted from the causes, what are the girls’ struggles, concern and worry, have any other learning opportunity such as  online study while not schooling and finally how can they see their future.

NFG Myanmar conducted qualitative data collections in the form of peer interviews with 76 girls across twenty seven communities.  NFGM analyzed the data transcribing and coding and the findings are as followed by girls’ situations, reasons for not schooling, differences of schooling and not schooling, impacts and their feelings of not schooling, concerns, worry and wishes about their future plan, any other learning opportunities, challenges of online learning processes, perspectives on education and their future dreams.

Benefit of peer data collection – practically, given the politicization of schooling in Myanmar in the day-to-day tensions over the provisions of services, conducting interviews using peer networks was critical to the process – girls and young women were willing to speak with other young women to share their experiences and reflections where “other” researchers would have likely struggled to access.

Overall, education has a different value depending on the level of education from generation to generation, however the young generation started to comprehend that higher education could be accessed by more opportunities and life path’s changes. Therefore, for the local girls/young women researchers, these causes are important to be paid attention to as schooling is an ultimate task for the adolescent girls in their age because most girls can’t do anything aside from household chaos when they are not able to go to school.

  • Ram Hlei Thang

Chinbridge Institute, Myanmar

Localized research is important to address issues of importance to the local community. Chinbridge Institute, with the aim to foster, promote and propagate research as a transforming force for both individual and societal life, and evidence-based decision making, conducted: 1) research on issues of importance to community and organizes, 2) supported research fellowships, and 3) hosted research methodology trainings for youths and early career researchers. Chinbridge Institute conducted research on issues such as public attitude towards corruption in Hakha, the relations between people and governance in Chin State, water governance, waste management, education, and budget process in Chin State. This presentation attempts to present highlights of some of the research findings, the research fellowship programs, and how the research findings are used/attempted to be used for advocacy purposes, as well as the challenges of conducting research as local researchers, and the importance of supporting local researchers.


Ram Hlei Thang is a researcher and civic educator based in Chin State, Myanmar. He earned his M.Phil. in Political Science from Jain University, India. His research interests include democracy, secularism, identity politics, gender equality, and local governance.

  • Chu Wai Wai Zaw

Help Without Frontiers

COVID-19 has exposed underlying vulnerabilities in marginalized migrant communities. With little savings and few backup plans, an increasing number of migrant families have been forced to have their children work to provide for their families. Moreover, with Migrant Learning Centers on the Thai-Myanmar border closed, migrant children have lost a critical child protection safety net and needed socioemotional support. Participatory Action Research was undertaken to identify and raise children’s voices in regards to difficulties and challenges concerning child protection issues experienced, heard, or seen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will describe gathered insights from parents, teachers, and especially children. Through qualitative responses, interviewed children reported that physical abuse was most frequently occurring risk followed by emotional abuse and child labor. Teachers reported that along with school closure, children lost their emotional support channel, facing difficulties when expressing concerns or speaking up about challenges in their family life. It’s clear that migrant children are facing manifold challenges. This presentation will provide both challenges and actionable recommendations to support comprehensive and community-based approaches needed to ensure educational continuity and well-being of children and the maintenance of child protection mechanisms during this difficult time. It will also describe gathered insights from parents, teachers, and especially children. As a result of the research, our teams are integrating child protection messages and activities into community and school routines. This presentation will also share about the child safe spaces within migrant communities that have been developed using recommendations from this report. As conflict remains widespread throughout Myanmar, there will be a continued need for safe learning environments for migrant children in Thailand.


Emergency and protection coordinator Chu Wai Wai Zaw works for the Help Without Frontiers Foundation in Mae Sot, Thailand. She currently works as an emergency support worker and has six years of experience working with migrant education communities. To raise awareness about the importance of education, she has worked with migrant children, parents, teachers, and caregivers in Thailand’s Mae Sot region. She has experience advocating for the rights of children and women. In the areas of education and protection, she has collaborated with numerous NGOs and CBOs. She has also discovered why it is essential for migrant communities near the border to support children’s protection and education. In her perspective, the foundation for migrant learning and achievement is safety and education.

  • Luther

Spring University Myanmar

The drivers of higher education snapshot

Spring University Myanmar(SUM) was established with a mission of providing educational access to millions of Myanmar youths amidst the political crisis. Over the past months, over 12,000 students have enrolled in SUM online courses. SUM has been advocating for the systemic strengthening of interim education providers and envisions to be an open university platform for degree programs and vocational training.

We will discuss the role of local researchers by showcasing findings and comparing and contrasting previous research activities; as well as the advantages, challenges, and difficulties faced by the various stakeholders. Entrepreneurial-minded youth, university teachers, students and civil society organization members are at the center of developing the interim education programs and sustaining institutions.

  • Pann Ei Phyu

The Tea Leaf Center

Localizing research: Why localizing research matters and examples from the field

Local is often defined contextually and often in conflicting ways – from concepts of local governance to local culture, from local histories to local peoples, or from local knowledge to local research. Local can be bounded by spheres of power, influence, impact, or jurisdiction; as well as by shared histories, cultures, and geographic or temporal framings (Boonratana, 2010; Briffault, 1999; Cox and Mair, 1991; T.S. Elliot, 2010). Therefore, we conceptualize localized research as research led by those most affected by the research -such as grassroots organizations, social movements, and other affected communities. Localized research can play a crucial role in movements, and requires active participation from grassroots organizations, practitioners, and activists. Such movements can use research to support their advocacy, learn about issues of importance to them, and influence policy. Localizing research has been a common theme in development strategies across the globe, visible in arenas ranging from debates among academics to the increasing role of citizen scientists in research and policy (Karam and Afiouni, 2014; Mansuri and Rao, 2012). The goal of localizing research has been included in processes from SDG directional planning to project creation and research implementation (Fisher and Fukuda-Parr, 2019; Fox and Macleod, 2021). However, field experience has shown that despite progressive moves towards localizing research, unequal power dynamics within key aspects of the research process continue to prevent fully-localized research. In many cases, localization in practice is limited to using local data collectors or community consultations with little impact on the overall design and analysis of the research. In a truly localized research process, local researchers must lead all aspects including research design, analysis of data, ethical review, among others. This panel highlights the importance of research capacity building for localized research, in the context of Burma and Burma focused civil society, with a particular focus on why and how developing capacity beyond data gathering is important. In addition, the panel will discuss the importance of localized research to grassroots movements and organizations working for issues such as access to health, indigenous rights and women’s empowerment. We argue that research at all levels benefits from capacity building of local researchers and provide on examples from the ground through panel participants in a variety of disciplines. By closely examining examples of localized research in diverse contexts, this panel provides support for and evidence towards a new model of research collaboration and engagement that helps to justify research localization through research capacity building.


Ei Phyu is a research and training assistant at the Tea Leaf Center. She enjoys working for community development projects, especially in the rural development sector. She believes education is key to bringing a better future for the people and to reduce poverty and inequality. She was awarded a scholarship from Child’s Dream Foundation and finished her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Development at Rangsit University International College in Bangkok.