Diasporic Voices: Political Engagement Among the Indonesian Diaspora

Dr Charlotte Setijadi1

1Singapore Management University, Singapore

Various estimates place the number of overseas Indonesians at around 8 million people worldwide, making the Indonesian diaspora the 15th largest diaspora group in the world. However, despite their growing size, the Indonesian diaspora remains under-studied, and their economic, social, cultural, and political contributions are largely unknown. In this paper, I examine the political engagement and activism of various overseas Indonesian communities, particularly during major political events and upheavals in Indonesia, such as the 2014 and the 2019 presidential elections, and the tumultuous 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. Drawing on findings from ethnographic fieldwork and online-based research, I analyse the modes, platforms, and narratives of Indonesian diasporic political engagement. I argue that the political activities of overseas Indonesians challenge existing binary models of state-diaspora relations.


Charlotte Setijadi is an Assistant Professor of Humanities as the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University in Singapore. She obtained her PhD in anthropology from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, with a dissertation that examines ethnic Chinese identity politics in post-Suharto Indonesia. Charlotte researches identity politics in Indonesia, as well as the transnational mobilities and political activism of the Indonesian diaspora worldwide. Her research has been published in various academic books and journals such as the Journal of Contemporary China and Asian Survey.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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