I am in the middle of evaluating a Human Trafficking project in a large Asian country. The well-known international organization I am evaluating has made some great improvements in combatting this awful problem. But I have faced a massive dilemma in evaluating the victim ‘protection’ projects I was taken to see because of what I … More RESCUED?

The Ragged Edge of Paradise: Postcard from the Banda Islands

One mustn’t look into the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexplicable charm which attracts us. Gustave Flaubert   Serene, quaint, calm, are the words that come to mind in describing the Banda Islands, a small group of ten islands in the Eastern Indonesian province of Maluku. Banda Naira, the administrative center of … More The Ragged Edge of Paradise: Postcard from the Banda Islands

My Vindication Song

Gender inequality, elitism, and ivory tower protectionism all succeeded in weeding me out of my academic career twenty years ago, but only now do I have the words to explain or even understand how and why this happened. From the start, I must emphasize how much I wanted that academic career. Unlike most of my … More My Vindication Song

Untold Stories

It was already quite late on the last night of the fasting month of Ramadhan, 1993. I was sitting on the bottom bunk bed along side Sari and her youngest brother Atong. She had asked me to come and sit here because she had something to tell me. We were staring at the old ceramic … More Untold Stories

Style and Lifestyle through Indonesian Tattoos

Originally published in Latitudes vol 12. January 2002 Since her rape by an unknown assailant, Docter Monik (Sophia Latjuba), was traumatized. All efforts by Jimny (Gito Gillas), her fiance, to please her always failed. Monik hated Jimny, after she caught him fooling around with one of the nurses in the hospital. Since then Monik always rejected … More Style and Lifestyle through Indonesian Tattoos

The Family of GIRLI: the Homeless Children of Yogyakarta

This is one of the very first ethnographic articles I ever wrote, and which went on to thoroughly influence how I went about the rest of my career. Street kids trained me in ethnographic analysis, patience, trust, and how to combine advocacy with research. In short, if you are not giving back something to the … More The Family of GIRLI: the Homeless Children of Yogyakarta