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From colonial times on Java through to the present day, large numbers of Javanese have left their homes to settle in other parts of Indonesia or much further afield. Frequently this dispersion was forced, often with traumatic results. Today, Javanese communities continue to exist as near to home as Kalimantan and as far away as Suriname and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, migrant workers from Java continue to travel abroad, finding short-term employment in places like Malaysia and the Middle East.
This volume traces the different ways in which Javanese migrants and migrant communities are connected in their host society and with Java as a real or imagined authoritative source of norms, values and loyalties. It underlines the importance of diaspora as a process in order to understand the evolving notions of a Javanese homeland across time and space. Even though Java as the point of departure links the different contributions, their focus is more on the process of migration and the experiences of Javanese migrants in the countries of destination. In so doing, they examine historical developments and geographical similarities and differences in the migrants’ social and political positions, mechanisms of authority, and social relations with other migrants.
Clearly, the labour element dominates the Indonesian overseas experience. But the volume also elucidates how ethnicity, class, gender, religion and hierarchy have shaped and still inform the dynamics of diasporic communities. Many of the chapters pay particular attention to gender as, since the 1960s, women for the first time have formed the majority of international migrants, domestic work being the largest category of transnational work. As a result, important aspects of the migration experience are seen in new ways via the lens of women’s experiences.