Well, it’s been a whirlwind of a summer/departure/week at home and I’m not sure how to sum it up. I’ll do so the lazy way: copy and pasting all the other stuff I’ve been writing about my research and my experience.
I think our research presentations went really well. I really wish we’d had more time to present: 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of taking questions from the community didn’t feel like enough time to cover all of our findings. Our topic, as explained in the informal paper we’re currently working on (sorry it’s late, Termana!):
Madeline, a Political Science major, was interested in studying women’s political involvement, looking for gendered understanding of Indonesia’s political culture. She wondered how people were encouraged or discouraged from participating in the political sphere, and how that experience was different for women. Angga, who studies History, was interested in women and culture. Focusing on the Suharto era, he hoped to understand why most women were/are not politically involved …
Interestingly, our informants often referenced history in their responses. Most divided up their history between four main periods, which can be best described as: before 1965, 1965, the Suharto era, and post-Suharto. What people would talk about depended on their age and occupation, with activists and older people reaching back to the years under President Sukarno and younger people focusing on what it was like to grow up under Suharto. We think this points to how important modern history is to understanding political culture and women’s involvement in politics.
We ended up calling our topic “a gendered and historical analysis of political culture.” Our presentation described what we learned about those four periods and then attempted to characterize Indonesian political culture. We got some really great questions and comments when we opened the floor to the audience. One man pointed out a women’s movement that we’d missed in our research. A couple of people challenged some of Angga’s statement’s — to which he gave a very long and impressive-sounding (but unfortunately in Indonesian) response that I wish I could have understood. I wish I’d gotten a little more feedback on my argument. I saw a few people in the audience nodding their heads as I spoke, but no one commented directly on what I said. When I asked a few people after the presentation if they thought my characterization was fair, I got mostly polite answers.
The CPGC has asked us to fill out a final report about our experiences. Here’s a mammoth of a response I wrote for the question “What was most valuable or successful in this work experience for you?”
The last two months have been the most confusing and rewarding, frustrating and wonderful experience of my life. I thought about issues that were only abstractions before (post-conflict reconciliation, civil society in a repressive political environment, women’s experience in patriarchal societies…); had difficult conversations about research ethics and cultural sensitivity (what do you do when you find out you may have been offending someone by accident? Is it ok, especially as an outsider, to ask this grandmother why she thinks her husband was killed in 1965?); challenged assumptions I didn’t know I had (that formal justice solutions are a necessary part of reconciliation, that speech is free and it’s safe to be an activist…); shown me the immense benefits and difficulties of research collaboration (the language and cultural barrier can be as rewarding as it is difficult); and struggled with questions of representation: in my presentation, on my blog, and in my memories.
I’d also like to echo everything Jen said in her previous post. I am so grateful to the people that made this experience possible and the people that made it wonderful: the CPGC, everyone in the Taman 65 community, Termana and Ika, Leslie and Degung, our gurus and friends at Sanata Dharma University, my fellow interns (American and Indonesian)… I could go on and on. Aku sudah rindu kalian, teman-temanku Indonesia.
In my first post, I concluded with a list of juices I’d tried. The list has grown a little in the past nine weeks, so I’ll do the same now:
- Papaya milk juice
- Lychee juice
- Guava juice
- Avocado-chocolate juice: smooth and sweet
- Chocolate juice
- Es jeruk: basically orangeade, served cold or hot
- Es jeruk nipis: lemonade, hot or cold
- Watermelon juice: refreshing, tasted more like a watermelon than watermelon
- Jus terong belanda: one of my favorites. I was shown this fruit in its fruit form but I still have no idea what it is. The name literally means “Dutch eggplant”
- “Geromino”: ginger, orange, mint
- Papaya, lime, cinnamon, and honey juice
- Es kelapa muda: pink, grenadine-flavored water with strings of shredded young coconut
- “The Special” at a transvestite-themed restaurant: ice, coconut milk, banana chunks, shredded kelapa muda, tapioca cubes
- Avocado-coffee juice: weird at first but really good
- Honeydew melon juice
- Jackfruit juice: jackfruit is one of the most versatile and most intriguing foods ever. It can look/taste like a vegetable, like a fruit, or like a meat
- Starfruit juice: tart like limeade, sweet like pinapple
- Orange juice: we found a warung that sells the most perfect orange juice. It is icy (more of a non-dairy smoothie consistency) and tastes like the best orange you have ever eaten. We got one almost every day towards the end
- Jus kacang ijo: mung bean juice. I love mung bean porridge, but this juice was the only one I didn’t finish
- Tamarind juice: this flavor is hard to place but it’s most similar to peanuts or sweet potatoes. I love both those things but this juice was not my favorite
- Cantaloupe juice
- Mango juice: often with a little bit of chocolate syrup on the edge of the glass
- Apple juice: I’m pretty sure this juice is made from coring an apple and putting it in a blender. Flavorful, fibrous, and sweet
- Fresh coconut juice: fresh as in, the vendor hacked off the top of a basketball-sized coconut and gave us a straw
- Not-a-juice-but-so-weird-it-makes-the-list-anyway: kopi luwak, a coffee that’s made from beans that, uhh, have been through the digestive system of a weasel-like creature. A cup costs about $12, but I found a free sample while grocery shopping the last day