From Mail Order Bride to Terrorist Strategy: How Portrayals of Indonesian Australian Marriages Affect Identity and Belonging

By Monika Swasti Winarnita Doxey.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is based on current ongoing ethnographic PhD research looking at transnational families residing mainly in Australia, where one spouse is Indonesian and the other Australian. Their highly mobile transnational engagement potentially complicates boundaries of national identity belonging within the social site of the family and their local communities. A key exploration is their expression of identity within contested sites of diversity: ethnicity/race, religion, gender roles and nationalism. The paper describes narratives of the families’ negotiation of their ‘well-being’ in the face of orientalist and religious stereotypes as well as regional political uncertainty within and between neighbouring Indonesia and Australia. Depictions in popular mass media of the Australian accused terrorist Jack Thomas with a ‘mail order bride’ marriage situation to an Indonesian woman with presumed Indonesian terrorist cell links, is a prime example of the heightened fear that affects the Indonesian-Australian family. Thus, a degree of insecurity and ambivalence to their subjectivity has also been central in the families’ expression of home, identity and belonging in both countries.

Keywords: Transnational Families, Intercultural Marriage, Identity, Well Being, Belonging, Diversity and Local Communities, Representation and Effect on Subjectivity

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.209-216. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 513.872KB).

Monika Swasti Winarnita Doxey

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia

I am a PhD student who does Anthropological fieldwork amongst Indonesian Australian families in intercultural marriages residing in Perth and Canberra Australia with a transnational engagement to Indonesia. The paper proposed is based on continuing ethnographic research of the families in their local communities and social network. Besides from fieldwork, data is also obtained from the previous 2 year research assistant work doing participant observation and in depth interviews for an intercultural marriage project in the Department of Anthropology, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. My academic background is in anthropology, humanities social science, gender and cultural studies, media and representation. My research interest is in migration, citizenship, intercultural relationship, gender and generational issues, diverse communities, cultural expressions of dance and music, concepts of belonging, identity, home and well being.


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