Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Southeast Asia and Beyond

In 2015, the media dubbed the dramatic journeys of asylum seekers unfolding on our television sets and social media as ‘the worst refugee crisis since WWII’. Images of boats carrying Rohingya asylum seekers being stranded in southeast Asian seas and that of a Syrian boy laying lifeless on the shores of Greece dominated international news. As Acehnese fishermen finally towed the Rohingya boats towards Indonesian shores out of humanitarian compassion and Muslim solidarity in May, it sparked renewed interest in Indonesia regarding its status as a ‘transit country’ for asylum seekers and refugees. Yet, there is still limited understanding regarding the historical and current presence of asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia as well as neighboring Southeast Asian countries. In what ways do international, regional and national agendas shape policies on asylum seekers and refugees? In what ways do structural and cultural contexts affect social inequalities relating to asylum seekers and refugees, and local perceptions of their presence? How do various actors (politicians, NGOs, asylum seekers, etc.) perceive these issues? How can we understand the experiences of children and youth ‘stuck in transit’ (Missbach 2015)? This panel welcome papers that seek to highlight a broad range of issues concerning asylum seekers and refugees, particularly, but not limited to, those transiting through and remaining in Southeast Asia. It welcomes both empirical research and theoretical papers that focus on the study of asylum seekers and refugees, especially in Indonesia and its neighboring countries.

Panel Coordinator:

Dave Lumenta (Universitas Indonesia)
Danau Tanu (University of Western Australia)


  1. Murderous seas, ocker nationalism and willing Asian workers: the Australian news media’s depiction of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s [Max Walden]
  2. From transit country to regional leader: Indonesia’s role in the search for a  regional cooperation framework on displacement’ [Madeline Gleeson]
  3. Islam, civil society, and refugee: examining the role of Islam in civil society’s response to refugee issue in Indonesia [Wirya Adiwena]
  4. Acehnese Refugee Wellbeing in the United States: Sense of Belonging, Identity, and Ecological Systems of Support [Fairuziana Humam Hamid  & Holly Angelique]
  5. Permanent makeshift? Asylum seekers’ temporary accommodation outside detention centers in Indonesia [Antje Missbach]
  6. In search of God?: The politics of conversion among Hazara and Iranian refugees in Jakarta [Danau Tanu]
  7. Self Empowerment While in a Transit: The case of Hazara asylum seekers in Cisarua, West Java [Selly Riawanti]
  8. Building community against the odds: The case of refugees in post-reformasi Indonesia [Thomas Brown]
  9. Free as a Butterfly: The aspirations of young women in the Hazara refugee community to gain their space of articulation in Cisarua, Indonesia [Realisa D. Masardi]