Notes from Jakarta and Bangkok

I’ve been in Jakarta for quite a while and visited Bangkok very recently. There are some post-fieldwork updates for you, dear readers:

  1. First, I’m back to the LP3ES office, working and catching up on several writings before going to my third field site.Also, we’re moving to a new office (finally!). But unfortunately it’s rather far from where I live, so I might only come to the office once in a while.
  2. I presented a paper on my side research project, “Village Intermediaries in Public Service Provision in Serang District”, at the 6th JAI Symposium at the University of Indonesia (UI). This is a symposium organized by UI Anthropology Department’s flagship journal, Antropologi Indonesia. It was a great symposium – great panels, great conveners, great fellow presenters, great colleagues, and great locations. Nonetheless I do have some suggestions for future improvements, which I will mention later.
  3. Right after the symposium, I flew to Bangkok to give a talk for the 2016 ENIT/ENITAS Awardee Presentation. I was required to do so since I got the ENITAS grant from the Institute of Thai Studies at Chulalongkorn University for my fieldwork research. Overall it was a great event –  I enjoyed hearing so many interesting research projects from the other awardees, but I also have some suggestions for the event.

In between I managed to catch up with colleagues, friends, and advisors. The best one was in Bangkok, where I was able to have a drink (or two) with a grad school friend, Tom, who is also on the field and a professor who now teachers at Thammasat. Tom also kept me company for the whole event, since he also got the grant (the ENIT one).

Now, the comments: I think both Indonesian and Thai academia are trying really hard to – forgive my somewhat politically incorrect usage of the term here – “catch up”with the academic standards in the developed world, which is a good thing. More money are being poured in into this endeavor, but what is also, if not more, important is to push for institutional reforms in academia – including the whole “rituals” of conferences and the like. The fact that things like academic conferences can be organized on a regular basis is quite an achievement, but I think we can do more – we can, for example, improve the quality of the debate within conference panels, and the like.

That sounds like a pretty feasible proposal, I believe.

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