Mixed-heritage Indonesian-Japanese youth: Growing up in transnational educational spaces

Indonesia Council Open Conference, 25-27 September 2023, Sydney

You can find the abstract, slides, article and additional reading below for a paper presented online for the Indonesia Council Open Conference (ICOC), 2023 as part of Panel 2.06 – Going Global: Transnationalism and Indonesia (Click here to join online).

Links to all other panels of the conference are available in the program booklet downloadable from the conference website.

Panel details

Panel 2.06 – Going Global: Transnationalism and Indonesia
Tuesday 26 September, 14:00–15:30 AEST (Sydney) – Join online

  • From Scout to Soldier: Transnational Youth Culture and the Shaping of Indonesian Pemuda
    Mr Jonathan Tehusijarana
  • Colonial Connections in the 21st Century: Indonesia, the Netherlands, Australia
    Ms Jorien van Beukering
  • Mixed Heritage Indonesian-Japanese Youth: Growing Up in Transnational Educational Spaces
    Dr Danau Tanu
  • Indonesian ‘Host’ Experiences of Australian Study Abroad Programs in Yogyakarta, Bandung and Jakarta
    Mr Nurfitra Asa, Ms Elena Williams

Paper abstract

Mixed Heritage Indonesian-Japanese Youth: Growing Up in Transnational Educational Spaces
Danau Tanu

This paper explores the experiences of young adults of mixed Indonesian and Japanese heritage in the context of the cultural legacy of Japanese imperialism in Asia and the contemporary regional socio-economic hierarchy. Many Indonesian-Japanese youth attend a mixture of educational institutions in Indonesia that include local schools, (overseas) Japanese schools, and/or English-medium ‘international’ schools. In each type of school, their Indonesian-Japanese heritage carries a different meaning depending on the transnational discourses that are at work on campus and whether the school’s dominant culture perceives Indonesia and/or Japan as inferior or superior. In response, the Indonesian- Japanese youth will at times perform Japaneseness while downplaying their Indonesianness or perform bicultural competence. The strategies they employ can result in ambivalent feelings about their heritage and a painful distance from their Indonesian mothers. Despite growing up in Indonesia, Indonesia’s positioning ‘in the world’ strongly influences their everyday lived experiences. 


The paper is based on the article ‘Are hafus “dirty” or “special”? Negotiating mixed-race identities among Japanese-Indonesian youths in Indonesia’ and new data of my current research.


You can download the slide deck below as a PDF file.

Additional reading

Some of the data in this paper has been published as part of a larger doctoral project in Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School (2018,2020). The ethnographic data was collected in Indonesia.