Vol. I No. 17 | March 2021

Authors:
Ani W. Soetjipto (Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Universitas Indonesia)
Dwi Ardhanariswari Sundrijo (Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Universitas Indonesia)
Muhammad Arif (Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Universitas Indonesia)
Arivia T. D. Yulestiana (Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Universitas Indonesia)
Annisa D. Amalia (Lecturer, Department of International Relations, Universitas Indonesia)

Summary
This commentary provides an overview of the evolution and landscape of the Indonesian diaspora, highlighting diversity of actors (in terms of demographic make-up and political inclinations) as well as acknowledging how our history of mobility has predated national history. Against the backdrop of a global trend, in which we see a proliferation of diaspora institutions, this mapping exercise contends that in the Indonesian case, contemporary diaspora engagement has been championed more by the society rather than the state. It considers the emergence of the Indonesian Diaspora Network as a diaspora organization, and the significant break it represents from previous diasporic animosity toward the state, and its evident national basis. An important reflection advanced here is how class  factors in diaspora formation and engagement, which leads to the subsequent question of inclusion/exclusion. What are the limits of diaspora membership, and what is low-wage migrant workers’ position in the diaspora? While diaspora engagement policies are mostly pre-occupied with attracting global talent (their capital, resources and network), this commentary canvasses early questions about the possibility of harnessing diaspora potentials in protecting migrant workers as one of the most vulnerable sub-population of Indonesians abroad. Protection efforts nevertheless need to take into account the workers’ own agency and organization, which have become more pronounced in recent years.

Keywords: diaspora, IDN, migrant workers, protection