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Thirteenth Conference of the European Social Science Java Network

IRSEA, Université de Provence, Marseilles, 2-4 May 2002.
Jean-Marc de Grave
p. 116-117

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1The European Social Science Java Network (ESSJN) is a group of some sixty scholars and practicioners working on the Indonesian island of Java. Its last two conferences were held in Passau in 1998 and in Amsterdam in 2000, on the following themes, respectively, “Way of life and consumption” and “Community, politics and social change.” Themes treated in earlier conferences include: “Agrarian changes in Java, non-agrarian works;” “Social change and social movements;” “Influence and formation of the elite;” “Health in Java, yesterday and today;” and “Java in theory and theories on Java.” Recent conferences gathered some 25 lecturers and an audience of about 40 and many were followed by the publication of collective books.

2For the first time since its creation, the network met in France. The 2002 conference, organized by IRSEA on the theme “Youth and identity in Java,” took place in the framework of a developing research and teaching hub on Southeast Asia in Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence, involving the Université de Provence (various departments), CNRS, the recently created Maison Asie Pacifique (with its rich library fund on Southeast Asia), and the Centre des Archives d’Outre-mer. It follows other international meetings on Southeast Asia organized by IRSEA: the Second EUROVIET Conference (1995), the Third European Conference of Philippines Studies (1997), the First International Conference on Hmong-Miao in Asia (1998), and the “AIDS and Asian Societies” conference (1998). Unfortunately, Marseilles appeared to a number of Javanologists, mostly hailing from northern Europe, as a somewhat out-of-the-way place, and only some 25 attended the conference.

3The choice of the main theme stemmed from the observation that the Javanese youth, in spite of their social and political power in challenging authority and their statistical weight (more than one third of the total population is under 18, and more than half under 30), remain poorly known and understudied.

4The conference was opened by Bernard Sellato, director of IRSEA, and Laurence Husson (IRSEA), the coordinator of the conference. The participants missed Martin van Bruinessen and Robert Wessing, whose participation had been announced, but they enjoyed the unanticipated presence of another veteran of Javanese studies, Niels Mulder, who took an active part in the debates and enlivened the atmosphere with his good mood.

5On the first two days, three panels were held:

6Social, Economic and Identity Changes (Chair: Niels Mulder): “Changing childhoods: Generations of change in child work and education in a Javanese village” (Ben White, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague); “Child workers in tobacco plantation in Jember, East Java” (Indrasari Tjandra-ningsih, ISS); “Identity problems among the youth of Javanese descent in New Caledonia” (Jean-Luc Maurer, IUED, Geneva).

7Health and Education at Stake (Chairs: Ben White and Jean-Luc Maurer): “Reconsidering education in Indonesia, or the problems of child-centred pedagogy” (Sheila Fish, SOAS, London); “Youth, sexuality and reproductive health: Issues of desire and control” (Brigitte Holzner, ISS); “Formal and non-formal education. The Taman Siswa yesterday and today” (Jean-Marc de Grave, CNRS-LASEMA, Paris-Villejuif); “Changing identities of Sundanese girls” (Mies Grijns & Indrasari Tjandra-ningsih); “Javanese youth, drugs and identity” (Harriet Beazley, Department of Geography, University of London); “Changes in language and language use among the youth in Java” (Dede Oetomo, Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia).

8The Stakes in Politics, Religion and Community Life (Chair: Laurence Husson): “The politics of youth in the 1950s” (Ratna Saptari & Emile Schwidder, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam); “Magic and violence” (Kees van Dijk, KITLV, Leiden); “Javanese and Balinese youth: The pendatang problem” (Jean Couteau, Denpasar, Indonesia); “Sexual trafficking of Javanese children and young people” (Titing Marthini, ISS).

9The morning session of the second day was opened by Charles Macdonald, director of UMS Maison Asie Pacifique. On the third day, in the presence of Mr. Chandra Hasan, the vice-consul of the Indonesian Consulate general in Marseilles, a movie produced by Garin Nugroho, comprising four separate short films on children in the context of the recent crisis, was shown and commented upon by Katinka van Heeren (CNWS, Leiden), an Indonesian cinema specialist.

10A general discussion on current social, political, and economic trends in Indonesia followed, around the central question: “Are all the problems raised during the conference – especially those dealing with education, sexuality, drugs, and prostitution – linked to the alarming phenomenon of globalization, or is the impact of globalization widely exaggerated?” It appears, in my view, that, as a general trend, the conference communications concerned modernized Indonesia, while a comparative perspective taking traditional Java into account was seriously lacking, in a damaging way when the topic discussed is identity.

11After the close of the workshop, propositions were made for the publication within two years of the conference papers as a volume to be edited par K. van Dijk, L. Husson, and B. White. A call for additional papers will be made. It was also decided to hold the Fourteenth ESSJN conference at ISS in Leiden, Dr. Ben White coordinating. The participants then enjoyed their last meal together at a restaurant overlooking the Vieux Port. After two rainy days, the sun at last appeared for our final hours in Marseilles.

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Bibliographical reference

Jean-Marc de Grave, Thirteenth Conference of the European Social Science Java NetworkMoussons, 4 | 2001, 116-117.

Electronic reference

Jean-Marc de Grave, Thirteenth Conference of the European Social Science Java NetworkMoussons [Online], 4 | 2001, Online since 18 March 2016, connection on 28 September 2021. URL:; DOI:

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Jean-Marc de Grave

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