Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Cultural framing of rights and subjectivities


Ratna Saptari Soetikno Slamet

MSc Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology - Research opportunity

My research interests focus on three separate but conceptually interrelated themes. The first is on the gendering of work within a production chain. Primarily focusing on the cigarette industry, this involves examining how unpaid domestic work at home and paid work in the (tobacco) fields and in the (cigarette) factories are arranged, negotiated and contested. This is in the context of global and state politics of anti-smoking and how it affects the political economy at different levels. Apart from a chapter on tobacco shed burnings in  East Java, a number of articles are in preparation particularly regarding corporate paternalism and the subcontracting of production; and on the existing political debates regarding the consumption and production of Indonesian kretek cigarettes, multinational corporations and cultural heritage. Both are meant to further examine the consequences for workers at different levels. 

The second theme is on social movements and human rights issues - particularly the discussion regarding international conventions, state regulations and cultural relativism. This is based on my work with the research team of the International People’s Tribunal 1965. How do international conventions interact with human rights issues at the level of the nation-state and at the local level? I have written a chapter on the situation of  Indonesian exiles, how their citizenship status have been invalidated by the Indonesian state.

The third theme is on transnational migration and paid domestic work, particularly regarding Indonesian (un)documented workers in the Netherlands. This involves examining the local and global networks which are created to struggle for the basic rights of migrant workers in the labour market, protection from acts of criminalization. As coordinator of the Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union in the Netherlands, I am confronted also with the issue of ‘engaged anthropology’ with its various dilemmas.

Keywords: Globalization, gender and labour relations, transnational migration, politics of belonging and nationhood, cultural heritage and cultural relativism, engaged anthropology and human rights.


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