Following a long period of research into smallholder agricultural practices and socio-economic development in Indonesia, my current research follows observations made during that time. Migration in the area of the current Indonesia has a long history, identifiable both as spontaneous and as part of programs instituted by the former Dutch rulers under colonial rule, as well as Indonesian governments through trans-migration projects. In present day Indonesia organised internal migration is limited, but communities once part of the transmigration programs appear to now once again spur movement.
My particular interests goes out to a group of Javanese migrants establishing new communities in the (protected) forests in Riau Province, Sumatra. Lured by the promise of oil palm earnings, these migrants, rather than having come from Java, came from Javanese communities established in North Sumatra through trans-migration programs. This new migrant stream is made up mostly of second-generation migrant households.
With my previous works having focused on the study of the changing agricultural practices of migrant communities finding themselves in a new environment, I found these communities to be a particularly interesting indicator into the changing role of smallholder and multi-cropping agriculture in Indonesia.
At IIAS I will extend my previous research on smallholders to include the historical context that trans-migration provides. The communities I have seen in Riau Province will form the starting point for this new line of inquiry in my work, where I will attempt to trace how the parents that brought forth these new communities came to find themselves in North Sumatra and how subsequent moves have changed practices and attitudes.