Danau Tanu

Danau Tanu, PhD, is the author of Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School, which was written based on her doctoral dissertation. She is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia and recently won a Japan Foundation Research Fellowship through which she will commence her postdoctoral research on Tokyo’s Multicultural Youth at Waseda University in 2021.

In the past, she has won a postdoctoral Endeavour Research Fellowship from the Government of Australia as well as a Monbukagakusho Research Scholarship from the Government of Japan.

On social media, Danau claims to be an ‘Anthropologist for all things Third Culture Kid’. To the more serious breed, she is an anthropologist whose main research interests are youth, mobility and migration (including forced migration), multiculturalism and international education. As a multilingual ethnographer, she also has a special interest in Indonesian and Japanese studies.

I remember being puzzled as an elementary school student that it was considered normal to have mothers who knew how to bake brownies while mine made sushi, and that my schoolmates had access to popular American sweets and toys, such as Nerds, licorice, and Cabbage Patch dolls, none of which were available at the local shops in Jakarta in the 1980s.


It is no secret that Danau’s own background has spurred her research interests. As a child of a Chinese Indonesian father and a Japanese mother, Danau grew up attending an Indonesian kindergarten for a year and a Japanese public school in Tokyo for a year as well as two English-medium ‘international’ schools in Indonesia and Singapore. Having grown up speaking four languages at home, it seemed natural for her to be drawn to studying issues relating to mobility and identity.

You can read more about Danau’s book, Growing Up in Transit, or her other publications, such as peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters or opinion pieces, as well as her public talks. Or, if you prefer to learn on the go, you can listen to or watch featured interviews on podcasts and other media or read something a tad more personal here.

These days, she is also busy serving the community as a volunteer using her research expertise: