Transnational lives and their boundaries : expatriates in Jakarta, Indonesia
This thesis investigates the lives of Euro-Americans expatriates, who are posted by multinational companies for a period between 1 to 5 years to the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. The main argument of this thesis is that expatriates' transnational lives are marked by boundaries. The prevalence of boundaries contrasts with current discussions on migration and transnationalism, which emphasise notions of fluidity. I suggest that expatriates' construction, maintenance, and transgression of boundaries characterises their relations with Indonesia. This is played out in especially in the domains of race and gender, interconnected with the body, the use of space, and socialising. Gender and race are among the most persistent of categories, which reconfigure especially expatriate women's experience of Indonesia, although they can never quite be transcended. The centrality of these categories, of race and gender, is not reflected in research on transnationalism. I argue that although expatriates lead `transnational' lives, their practices are marked by boundaries more than by flows. The notions of flows and boundaries are not conceptualised as opposites, but as necessarily presupposing each other. I suggest, though, that the role of boundaries in transnational lives has so far been disregarded. The study of expatriates thus adds a crucial dimension to theories of transnationalism. It also carries political relevance, asexpatriates represent `transnationalism from above', counterbalancing the existing research on unskilled labour migration movements. As expatriates have hardly been investigated at all, this study then fills a significant gap in terms of ethnography.