Indonesia (Java)

The Yogyakarta Field School is in the capital of the similarly named region, Yogyakarta, strategically located between mountains and ocean, offering an ideal position from which to start your own personal project somewhere amidst the Central Javanese landscape.

The rural countryside of Gunung Kidul, Klaten or Bantul easily facilitates explorations into a broad spectrum of topics such as (alternative) farming practices, traditional fishery, or ecotourism. Merapi National Park accommodates communities experimenting with sustainability or artisanal mining. In the very same environment we find some of the best known world heritage sites, including the temples of Prambanan and the Buddhist sanctuary of Borobudur, but one is also able to witness the spiritual tourism to places like  Imogiri and the Dieng plain where Islam and a blend of the syncretic tradition of kejawen is still abundantly practised.


Yogyakarta, city of culture, tourism and education

Today Yogya is a cosmopolitan and multi-ethnic hub, known for its galleries and art collectives, high and popular arts and a thriving (alternative) music scene. Since times immemorial the city, reputed to be the ‘cultural cradle of Javanese culture’, draws tourist, both domestic and from abroad, in search for its street cuisine, fashion or eager to dwell through one of the city’s many malls or shopping streets.

Yogyakarta is reputed as a ‘city of education’, where not only students from all over the archipelago are coming to study at one of the tens of universities, but where nowadays also many international students have come to participate in Javanese life an culture.

Due to its reputation of tolerance and the constant influx of people of all nationalities, ethnicity and religions, Yogyakarta today accommodates a wide range of NGOs and activist organizations, striving for causes as varied as religious tolerance, animal rights, or education for the poor and offering Leiden students possibilities for a three month internship with one of them.

Starting your own international network

We have a long tradition of working with our colleagues of Universitas Gajah Mada, Indonesia’s first state university, and we invite you to take part in this cooperation.

Together with our colleagues of anthropology, history and tourism studies, we will help you find a strategic location to work on whatever topic you have in mind. UGM also offers expertise on visual anthropology and media studies, and in the past our students have jointly worked on film projects with Indonesian peers.

For most of the three month stay you will find yourself living amidst a local community, and preferably close to or on top of your research topic. However, there is the possibility to contact local or Leiden staff in case you need advice.

Our field school encourages you to work closely together with Indonesian peers who are specializing in similar projects. This is your chance to work with international partners and share some of the insights in their part of the world, while sharing and reflecting upon yours.

Additional training

In the first week students from both Leiden University and Gajah Mada will attend an Ethnographic Research Techniques training, in which we offer a quick overview of some of the most frequently used tools and techniques (e.g. interview, survey, network analysis and mapping or photo and video elicitation) that may help you with your project. Part of this training takes place on location and also includes a first survey of possible sites for your project.

Halfway your stay, we and our counterparts organize a seminar in which students of both universities report on their preliminary findings, methodological difficulties offering you a great opportunity for feedback and to share your knowledge with peers.

For those participating in our Yogyakarta field school we offer a language course with our colleagues at the Leiden Institute of Area Studies. Additionally you may take language classes once having arrived to Yogyakarta.

Possible research topics

These are some of the topics our students focussed on over the last few years:

  • Urban water management in the Code community

  • Use of digital media by popular music makers

  • Education among the Hindu Javanese minority

  • Internship on Interfaith dialogue

  • Global arts in local galleries

  • Female labour migration from Indonesia to the Gulf

  • Urban Waste management and recycling

  • Perception of HIV/AIDS among Javanese transvestites

  • Chinese Heritage and Revivalism in Yogya City

  • The Yogya skateboard scene

  • Ecotourism in Kalibiru

  • Environmental training at junior high school

  • The Samin movement and indigeneity

Impressions of the Field school

Supervisor Bart Barendregt posted a short photo report on the Yogya field school impressions last March at the CA-DS Facebook.