Intimate Strangers--- Race and Space in Urban Indonesia
Based on my dissertation, I propose to write an ethnography of the everyday paradoxes and politics of race between Indonesian citizens of Chinese descent and their non-‐Chinese counterparts, focusing specifically on the ways in which “Chinese Indonesians” are racialized and ethnicized at intimate spaces of interracial exchange in urban Indonesia. Concerned to eschew popular uncomplicated assertions of “Chineseness” in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in general as either a self-‐proclaimed ethnic identity, a state-‐imposed racial category or simply a class privilege, this manuscript introduces a new approach to understanding “Chinese Indonesian” as the product of a long historical process as well as everyday cross-‐racial interactions through which Chinese cosmopolitan practices have gradually become congealed either in “diasporic” or “ethnic” spaces. It does so by examining the everyday politics of race and its intersection with class, ethnicity, nation, and gender formation in contexts such as the urban traffic flows, security industry, domestic service, as well as state administered displacement and programs of assimilation, finding in them a common formation of what this manuscript calls “intimate exclusion” that both produces and challenges ethno-‐racial difference and hierarchy between the Chinese and the non-‐Chinese in contemporary urban Indonesia. Besides rewriting and reorganizing my dissertation for the manuscript, I have identified three additional revision objectives: first, I will conduct a 1-‐ month-‐long follow-‐up fieldwork research in Medan, Indonesia, with the goal of gathering the most up-‐to-‐date data for the aforementioned analysis. Second, I will write a new chapter, which addresses the way in which Chinese Indonesians interact with their non-‐Chinese drivers and fellow Medan city dwellers in urban traffic flows that are increasingly reorganized under the neolibearl socio-‐spatial regime. Finally, I will write a new introduction for the manuscript, with the aim of developing a fresh theoretical framework that considers inter-‐racial intimacies and processes of exclusion as an entangled whole, thus allowing researchers to better get at the paradoxes and politics that the oxymoronic figurations of Chinese-‐Indonesians (e.g. Prameodya Toer’s “strangers who are not foreign”) and overseas Chinese in general (e.g. Anthony Reid’s “essential outsiders”) currently seek to mediate, on the one hand, while on the other hand expanding feminist and postcolonial studies’ insights on the exercise of power in and through, rather than outside of, social intimacies.