Children's Dynamic Roles in Migration: From Social to Cultural Actors for Diplomacy

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Median MUTIARA, Nagoya University, Japan
Introduction: Children’s roles are often overlooked in migration and in a family unit they are also considered as passive, with evidence of (still) lack of research showing their active roles in familial and social relationships in transnational migration. The dynamics roles of Indonesian migrant children in Japan in social and cultural contexts is the focus of this research.

Aims: The aims are to reveal and elaborate the roles of children in migration contexts, which is one of them to be cultural actors through school exchange programs, cultural exhibitions and festivals, evoking their identities through languages, religions and cultures in exotic minority.

Methods: This research is qualitative descriptive research, integrating library and ethnographic research. The library research includes media sources and related publications to explore the participation of Indonesian migrant families and children in Japan. The researcher also conducted interviews to children, parents, from 20 households in Nagoya and Indonesian School of Tokyo, teachers and the principal, including an in-depth observation in the school for a year.

Results: Almost two-thirds of the parents interviewed, acknowledged receiving language supports from their children in daily and social activities in Japan. While in the school, children actively and regularly participate in continuous cultural and exchange programs among local schools, and encouraged by the embassy. Their activities include performing traditional martial arts, indigenous musical performances and various outdoor activities. They are purposively trained and prepared for these events. Teachers also grants permission for them to leave classes, aiming for promoting the cultures of Indonesia, by means soft diplomacy.

Conclusion: Children have dynamic roles in migration, being the social actor in language supports contributing the well-being of their families, and cultural actors for soft diplomacy. Although the roles of children in migration are irrefutable, the next question should be whether they feel exploited with such responsibilities.