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Identity Politics and Refugee Policies in Kupang, Eastern Indonesia: A Politico-Historical Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2021

Andrey Damaledo
Affiliation:
Artha Wacana Christian University, Kupang, Indonesia Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan
Corresponding

Abstract

This article assesses the implementation of Presidential Regulation No. 125 of 2016 concerning the Treatment of Refugees and how it relates to different kinds of bureaucratic labelling of refugees as it unfolds in Indonesia’s region of Kupang. From a politico-historical perspective, Kupang is a useful case-study for elucidating the policy implications of the labelling of refugees, as the region has been hosting different kinds of refugees due to its strategic geographical location that borders Australia and Timor-Leste. Drawing on my fieldwork in Kupang between October 2012 and October 2013, and my intermittent return to the region between January 2017 and February 2019, this article argues that labels for refugees evolve over time in response to the larger sociopolitical situation, but they are formed mostly to serve the interest of the host country rather than those of displaced people. Furthermore, while labelling displaced people as “refugees” has been effective in justifying funding and support, it can also lead to a manipulation of refugee status, and the marginalization and exclusion of refugees.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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