The choice by Indonesians to become a foreign overseas worker, known as Tenaga Kerja Indonesia (TKI), is viewed primarily as an economic one. Working in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong or further afield in the Middle East, is perceived to offer possibilities beyond what they might hope for back home. The Indonesian government itself recognises the crucial role played by overseas migrant workers, with the World Bank estimating in 2016 that over 8.9 billion US dollars flowed back to Indonesia via remittances.
However, it is limiting to view overseas workers’ experiences purely in terms of economics. There are, of course, ongoing identity negotiations that mirror the complexities of being in a new and different land, particularly when it comes to religion and gendered expectations.
Lis Kramer‘s guest today, Dr Lailatul Fitriyah, has researched and published on the migrant worker experience through an intersectional lens, focusing particularly on how gender and religion shape the lived experiences of women working overseas. She gained her PhD thesis from the University of Notre Dame’ Department of Theology and she is an Assistant Professor of Interreligious Education at the Claremont School of Theology in California.
In 2023, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Elisabeth Kramer from the University of New South Wales, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Tito Ambyo from RMIT and Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University.