5 MAY 2014 (MONDAY)

Structural socioeconomic and technological changes characterized by the emergence of a ... entrepreneurial and ... in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia...

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

5 MAY 2014 (MONDAY) 10:00 – 10:15

REGISTRATION

10:15 – 10:45

WELCOME & INTRODUCTORY REMARKS Gavin JONES JY Pillay Comparative Asia Research Centre, Global Asia Institute, National University of Singapore Tracey SKELTON Department of Geography, National University of Singapore Suzanne NAAFS Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

10:45 – 12:00

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Chairperson

Gavin JONES, Global Asia Institute, National University of Singapore

10:45

Johanna WYN The University of Melbourne, Australia

11:30

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

12:00 – 13:00

LUNCH

13:00 – 14:10

PANEL 1 – WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS: CONFORMITY & POSSIBILITIES

Chairperson

Kumiko KAWASHIMA , National University of Singapore

13:00

Arthur CHIA Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Singapore University of Technology and Design Miye CHO Singapore University of Technology and Design

Becoming Global “Innovators” and “Leaders”: A Case Study of Undergraduates in a Technological University in Singapore

13:20

Colin SMITH University of Hong Kong

‘Freeters’ in the Free Market: New Youth Working Styles and Lifestyles in Japan

13:40

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

14:10 – 14:30

TEA BREAK

14:30 – 16:00

PANEL 2 – STUDENT ASPIRATIONS & TRAJECTORIES: LEISURE, EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES & MOBILITY

Chairperson

Claudia WONG, National University of Singapore

14:30

Wenty MINZA Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

Growing Up Through Leisure Cultures in Pontianak, Kalimantan

14:50

Chun Yi SUM Boston University, USA

From Water to Tears: In Search of Substance in China’s University

15:10

Trent BROWN Australian Catholic University

‘Going Outside’: Migration, Employment and Youth Aspirations in India’s Regional Towns

15:30

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

16:00 – 16:20

TEA BREAK

16:20 – 17:30

PANEL 3 – ASPIRATIONS VERSUS REALITIES: THE NEED FOR DECENT WORK

Chairperson

Tracey SKELTON, National University of Singapore

16:20

Jidapa MEEPIEN

Rethinking Youth in ‘the Asian Century’

Thailand Development Research Institute

Enhancing Decent Work and Employability for Young People in Rural Thailand

16:40

Suzanne NAAFS National University of Singapore

Negotiating Class: Youth Aspirations and (Under)Employment in Provincial Indonesia

17:00

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

17:30

END OF DAY ONE

18:30 – 20:00

CONFERENCE DINNER (For Speakers, Chairpersons & Invited Guests)

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

6 MAY 2014 (TUESDAY) 09:45 – 10:00

REGISTRATION

10:00 – 12:00

PANEL 4 – ALTERNATIVE ROUTES TO EDUCATION: THE POLITICS OF EDUCATED YOUTH

Chairperson

Tracey SKELTON, National University of Singapore

10:00

Amanda SCHNELLINGER University of Oxford, UK

Securing Our Future Despite our State: Young Educated Nepalis’ Quest for Salaried Employment within Political Turmoil

10:20

Rahul ADVANI National University of Singapore

Aspiration in the Time of Uncertainty: The Desires and Realities of Young People in India

10:40

Su-Ann OH Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

To Labour or to Lead? Education and Employment along the Thai-Burmese Border

11:00

Yi’En CHENG University of Oxford, UK

The Emotional Dimension of Cultural Capital: Singaporean Youth ‘Doing’ Aspiration through Private Higher Education in Singapore

11:30

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

12:00 – 13:00

LUNCH

13:00 – 14:30

PANEL 5 – REMIGRATION, APPRENTICESHIPS, ENTREPRENEURIALISM: OPENING UP NEW WORK & LIFE POSSIBILITIES

Chairperson

Qianhan LIN, National University of Singapore

13:00

Minhua LING The Chinese University of Hong Kong

“Rustication” in Post-Mao China: Aspiration and Educational Remigration of Second Generation Migrant Youth

13:20

Lyda CHEA Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia Roy HUIJSMANS Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Rural Internal Migrants Navigating Apprenticeships and Vocational Training: Insights from Cambodia and Laos

13:40

Esther ROOTHAM National University of Singapore

“So I Kind of Fit None of Them”:Young Goan Migrant Youth and Employability Hierarchies in an Ordinary British City

14:00

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

14:30 – 15:00

TEA BREAK

15:00 – 16:30

PANEL 6 – YOUTHFUL DIASPORAS: SEEKING WORK, CONNECTIONS & SUPPORT

Chairperson

Johanna WYN, University of Melbourne, Australia

15:00

Sakshi KHURANA Delhi University, India

Redefining Norms, Exploring New Avenues: Employment and Education Choices for Young Women in Delhi

15:20

Uwes FATONI

Shaping Identity of Indonesian Young Generation in the United States of America

State Islamic University, Indonesia 15:40

Wai-Chi CHEE The Chinese University of Hong Kong

16:00

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

16:30 – 17:30

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Opportunities, Challenges and Transitions: Educational Aspirations of Pakistani Migrant Youth in Hong Kong

Suzanne NAAFS National University of Singapore Tracey SKELTON National University of Singapore 17:30

END OF CONFERENCE

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Rethinking Youth in ‘the Asian Century’ Johanna WYN Youth Research Centre, The University of Melbourne, Australia [email protected]

The metaphor of ‘the Asian Century’ refers to the global implications of unprecedented growth of economies in the Asian region. This growth is accompanied by social and economic transformation, involving transnational patterns of mobility of people, capital and ideas. Professor Wyn explores the implications these developments may have for young people within the region, with particular reference to new (global) education and labour market landscapes. In all countries in this region economic policies are underpinned by the goal of raising levels of participation in education. In turn, the extended time spent in education has a significant impact on the nature and experience of youth. Increasing educational participation extends the time during which young people are financially dependent and it raises educational, employment and life style aspirations amongst young people and their families. However, labour markets (and their relationship to education and training) are also changing. In this context, returns from education cannot be taken for granted. Drawing on Australian longitudinal research and informed by case studies in Asian countries, Professor Wyn analyses the ways in which education is becoming both more necessary and less sufficient as a condition for success in new labour markets that include ‘zones of precarity’ even for the educated. Against this backdrop, Wyn argues that effective policies need to take into account the responses of different groups of young people to new social and economic landscapes of risk and opportunity. Strength-based policies require a shift away from frameworks that simply categorise young people according to institutional markers of progress, towards frameworks that recognize the resources, relationships and connections that enable young people to build their lives (and communities) in challenging times.

Professor Johanna Wyn is Director of the Youth Research Centre in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia. She leads the Life Patterns longitudinal study of two cohorts of Australians. Her work focuses on the interface between young people’s learning and wellbeing in formal and informal educational settings, on young people’s transitions and on the question of what kinds of knowledge and skills professionals who work with young people in these settings need in the 21st Century. Her recent publications include: Youth and Society: exploring the social dynamics of youth (3rd edition), with Rob White; Youth Health and Welfare; Touching the Future: Building Skills for Life and work; The Making of a Generation: The children of the 1970s in Adulthood with Lesley Andres; Touching the Future: Building Skills for Life and Work, and Making it work: Continuity and change in rural places, with Hernan Cuervo.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Becoming Global “Innovators” and “Leaders”: A Case Study of undergraduates in a technological university in Singapore Arthur CHIA Anthropology Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Singapore University of Technology and Design [email protected]

Mihye CHO Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Singapore University of Technology and Design [email protected]

Based on an ongoing research project which enters into the classrooms of a technological university that attempts to integrate a technologically grounded engineering education with design, management, the humanities and social sciences’, and stepping into the shoes of undergraduates who are beginning to learn the ways of thinking and doing like technologically grounded leaders and innovators, this proposed paper seeks to address the following question: how does this emerging technologically grounded education affect young people’s expectations about themselves, their career plans and the future they think they are going to inhabit? It looks at the kinds of “selves” or subjectivities that arise from the anticipation of a techno-capital future, and focuses on how young people respond to the pressures and demands of this apparent but not imminent future. Structural socioeconomic and technological changes characterized by the emergence of a global engineering work force from newly developing Asian and Eastern European countries, and changes in employer expectations, have compelled engineering universities to reform their curriculum and pedagogy. Under these circumstances and taking the cue from leading engineering colleges in the United States, new technology/engineering institutions are being set-up elsewhere around the world – such as in Singapore with the establishment of two new engineering-based public universities that seek to socialize students into thinking and functioning as “innovators”/technologically-grounded leaders. Their education and training focus on aspects of technology that embodies collaboration, risk-taking, competition/competitiveness and put emphasis on individual traits such as creativity and leadership for example. In this proposed paper, we attempt to show how young undergraduates who are studying in one of these newly established technological institutions explore and create opportunities for themselves by demonstrating innovation and inventiveness. Their performances illuminate the particularities of technology that includes not only youthful vigor and idealism but also the differential experiences of social class and national identities. We adopt an ethnographic approach and in considering the experiences of these undergraduates, we thereby link the formation of subjectivities of young adults to an expanding education system in Asia and the global structural political-economic shifts. The experiences of these young adults also serve as reference points for an understanding of technology and/or technological innovation as a complex and discursive phenomenon rather than an ineluctable presence or inevitable future.

Arthur Chia is currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at MIT (Anthropology) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). His post-doctoral project at MIT and SUTD focuses on students’ learning: it seeks to examine how technology undergraduates respond to the pressures and processes of learning to become entrepreneurial and innovative. The fieldwork research started in late 2012 and is ongoing. Arthur’s research interests are situated in the fields of anthropology of religion as well as science, technology and society studies (STS). He obtained his PhD from NUS (Southeast Asian Studies) in 2012. In his PhD thesis, Arthur discusses about the formation of moral subjectivities in a lay-Buddhist organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Mihye Cho is an Assistant Professor at Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). She has been researching creative cities, liveable cities, ageing and university reformation in Asia with particular focus on engineering education. She has been conducting interviews with undergraduate students in newly established engineering universities in Singapore and Korea. Her published papers include, Turning the Hong-dae area into a Cool Cultural District in Seoul (2012) and Cultural Politics in a Cultural District: Envisioning a World City Seoul, South Korea (2010) and co-authored papers, Successful Ageing in High-density City: A review of Singapore’s urban policies (forthcoming) and Economization or Conservation of Obsolete Industrial Spaces (2014). Recently, she and Arthur Chia have submitted a paper, Terms of Innovation: Conjugating Science and Technology, the State and Population in Singapore.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

‘Freeters’ in the Free Market: New Youth Working Styles and Lifestyles in Japan Colin SMITH Department of Sociology, University of Hong Kong [email protected]

Japan’s last two decades of sluggish growth and postindustrial restructuring have significantly narrowed regular ‘lifetime’ employment opportunities for young people. In consequence, many new graduates during these years became part-time and temporary workers known in Japan as ‘freeters.’ Working mostly in lowwage retail, service, and creative industries, as well as in white-collar administrative support positions, they have come to be seen by news media as a ‘lost generation’ of marginalized and disoriented youth. Scholarly studies have also tended to regard them as economic victims, with most research focusing on market deregulation or on the precariousness of non-regular employment. While irrefutable, these studies tell only part of the story. This paper offers a different perspective of Japan’s young non-regular workers by examining how many of them who aspire to work in culture and creative industries have had to articulate new social identities as they negotiate the challenges of the transforming economy. Based on anthropological fieldwork conducted in Tokyo, it illustrates a variety of ways they have done so, including redefining the meaning of work in terms of an ethic of individuality, flexibility, and self-expression; calling into question the costs of ‘lifetime’ employment and rejecting manufacturing work as “dirty, demanding, and dangerous;” enrolling in senmon gakkou (a kind of tertiary technical school) to acquire new skills and certifications, especially for creative industries; and organizing salons, cafes, bookstores, and art spaces as part of a counter-cultural scene in the heart of the city. I suggest that in these different ways they are both contributing to and resisting Japan’s neoliberal and postindustrial shift.

Colin Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. He completed his PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at Yale University. Before moving to Hong Kong, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and the University of Tokyo. His current research examines the cultural dynamics and politics of postindustrial youth employment and lifestyles in Japan.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Growing Up through Leisure Cultures in Pontianak, West Kalimantan Wenty Marina MINZA Center for Indigenous and Cultural Psychology Faculty of Psychology Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia [email protected]

This paper will focus on leisure cultures of educated young people in their early to late twenties, who are pursuing tertiary education in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Mainly using a qualitative approach that focuses on young people’s subjective thoughts and experiences in this provincial city, the study finds that leisure cultures often function as a resource that young people use to secure a better future, or in other words, to grow up. It challenges the general view that separates leisure and work/study at two contrasting ends, and argues that leisure cultures and work/study are often intertwined realities that reinforce, rather than weaken one another. Taking the education domain as a case to support the above notion, this paper will show that despite seeing tertiary education as a promising cultural capital to attain good jobs in the future, young people in Pontianak are well aware of the limits education has in a competitive labor market. Growing up by finding decent jobs in the civil service is an out of reach dream for most, even with the educational credentials they have. This reality, coupled with the relatively low quality education in Pontianak, has encouraged young people to engage in leisure cultures of hanging out rather than study during and after campus hours. Campus grounds become a prominent hang out place for these educated youth. Leisure cultures of hanging out are not only a way of passing time for relaxation but a strategy young men and young women employ to deal with a corrupt education system, ethnic segregation, and also to form peer networks which they expect will facilitate their opportunities in finding decent work in the future.

Wenty Marina Minza is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She is also a researcher at the Center for Indigenous and Cultural Psychology and at the Center for Population and Policy Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada. A PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, her thesis examines the relations (and tensions) of young people’s transition to adulthood (growing up) and their construction of youth identity in one of the provincial towns in Indonesia. Apart from her interest in youth studies, her research interests also include topics on gender in conflict/disaster contexts and trust in interpersonal relationships.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

From Water to Tears: In Search of Substance in China’s University Chun-Yi SUM Department of Anthropology, Boston University, USA [email protected]

This paper examines Chinese college students’ understandings of responsible personhood and desirable futures by analyzing their motivations and experiences in extra-curricular organizational activities. Drawing from sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in an elite university in South China, I study how college students juggle their personal aspirations with multiple and, at times, conflicting moral obligations to themselves, their families, their peers, and society. Notwithstanding the popular accusation that Chinese students engage in extra-curricular activities for solely utilitarian purposes such as resume building, I found that my informants also aspired to cultivating their sense of authentic individuality through transcendent emotional experiences. Disappointed in the university’s failure to deliver its promises of substance and relevant knowledge, many students turned to extra-curricular organizations to make sense of their moral identities in the rapidly changing social world. Combining quantitative survey data with two ethnographic vignettes, I argue that imaginations about global modernity have inspired new possibilities among young elites in China to envision their ideal college education and future avenues to success. At the same time, many students have found it challenging to be simultaneously “responsible” and “true to themselves” under a new socio-economic order co-constructed by socialist morality and neoliberal logic. This paper addresses several sets of questions that should be of relevant interests to scholars of Asian youth. First, how do Chinese college students perceive and balance the paradoxical expectations to be practical yet idealistic, be focused yet flexible, and be rule-abiding yet creative and authentic all at the same time? What are Chinese youth’s moral priorities and contextual concerns when these ideals of productive personhood come into conflict? Second, how do globalization and neoliberal ideas empower and disempower young elites in China? Instead of solely focusing on the liberating aspect of modern changes, this paper complicates the study of youth agency by highlighting the social embeddedness of seemingly free-acting individuals and their self-oriented-decisions. Exploring college students’ confusion and discomfort as they confront the multiplications of options in the midst of changes and uncertainties, this paper will enrich the discussion on the aspirational desires among young urban elites in modern China and Asia.

Chun-Yi Sum is a PhD Candidate in socio-cultural anthropology at Boston University. Her research interests include the anthropological study of youth, morality, civil society, social mobilization, and higher education, with a geographical focus on China. Sum’s dissertation fieldwork focuses on volunteerism and civic consciousness among college students in South China. Her dissertation—tentatively titled Therefore I Am Made Indifferent: Morality and Civility in Student Organizations in a Chinese University—analyzes how oncampus associational experiences affect young people’s moral worldviews when they unwittingly disempower idealistic students from making sustainable and meaningful social contributions. Sum’s work has appeared in the journal Education about Asia, published by the Association for Asian Studies. She is the winner of the Theodore C. Bestor Prize for Outstanding Graduate Paper from the Society for East Asian Anthropology in 2010. She expects to defend her dissertation by May 2015.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

‘Going Outside’: Migration, Employment and Youth Aspirations in India’s Regional Towns Trent BROWN Australian Catholic University, Australia [email protected]

India’s middle class youth face a great number of obstacles to secure employment. These obstacles are particularly acute in regional towns, where the tensions of underemployment play out in unique ways. In regional towns, youth gain a high level of exposure to discourses of modernity and neoliberal development, due to their access to media and education. As a result, they form aspirations for modern lifestyles. They have limited opportunities to realise such aspirations, however, as they are removed from national centres of growth. In this paper, I focus on youth from Darjeeling, a hill station of just over 110,000 residents, in regional West Bengal. The paper draws on in-depth interviews and ethnographic research conducted throughout 2013 and 2014 to explore the experiences of youth in towns removed from the epicenters of neoliberal modernity. I demonstrate that youth in regional towns feel disadvantaged in their access to suitable middle class jobs, modern education and the lifestyles associated with neoliberal globalization. Feeling sheltered in their home towns, they express a strong desire for ‘exposure,’ which can be only met by ‘going outside’ of Darjeeling. As such, their aspirations are inextricably bound to migration, specifically to India’s major metropolitan cities or, if possible, abroad. They are frustrated in their aspirations, however, as they feel constrained by the traditional family structure, their experiences of discrimination in the larger cities and the uneven temporalities between regional towns and ‘global India.’ I go on to argue that these experiences of regional youth highlight the geographical unevenness of neoliberal globalisation, not only in terms of economic opportunity, but also in the ways it affects peoples’ self-concept, aspirations and worldviews.

Trent Brown is a Research Associate at Australian Catholic University (ACU), where he is working on an Australia Research Council funded project on regional globalisation in India. The project focuses on middlesized towns in India, with a special emphasis on youth, employment, migration, conceptions of modernity and development issues. Trent was recently awarded his PhD from the University of Wollongong, Australia. His thesis focused on civil society organisations promoting sustainable development in rural India. His broader research interests include agrarian change, migration, rural-urban relations and the social politics of sustainability.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Enhancing Decent Work and Employability for Young People in Rural Areas of Thailand Jidapa MEEPIEN Human Resources and Social Program Development, Thailand Development Research Institute, Thailand [email protected]

This paper is a comprehensive study on situation of youth employment in rural areas of Thailand. It mainly focuses on how the stakeholders can help improving the decent work condition as well as improving employability for young people living in rural areas. This paper firstly provides the methodological approaches in understanding the theoretical framework of decent work and the core concepts and components of the employability. For the decent work, it is based on social security. For the concepts and components of employability, it focuses on the skills that are needed by labor market. This paper applies a qualitative research, which includes document research and secondary data analysis. The major sources of the secondary data are from the Labor Force Survey (LFS) and the statistical data collected by the International Labour Organization, UNESCO and FAO. The study discloses that many of young people living in rural areas have less opportunity to access into labor market, especially young people living in the northeastern and northern parts of Thailand. In addition, the study also shows that many of them, in particular those are working in labor intensive sectors are vulnerable to hazardous working condition. The study found that economic and social disadvantages of rural communities are the major factors. Even if the Royal Thai Government has been expanding rural development policies and programs, such as education for all, there are many young people in rural areas who are unable to access to these programs. Consequently, the socio-economic conditions obstruct rural young peoples’ opportunities to improve their employability. Many of them have been trapped in labour intensive sectors. The study provides suggestions for establishing programs, which help create decent work and employability for the young people in rural areas. The programs include skills training that help fill the skill gap (e.g. vocational training programs, occupational health and safety) and programs that increase self-reliance such as the social protection programs (e.g. health insurance, minimum wages) and livelihoods programs which help reduce poverty. Learning centers which help to provide education for young people in remote areas are very much needed.

Jidapa Meepien is a researcher of Thailand Development Research Institute for the Human Resources & Social Development Program. With a background in Southeast Asian Studies, Miss Jidapa is interested in international migration, child rights, human trafficking, human security, politic and citizenship, and labour development. During her four years at TDRI, she has participated in academic projects, for example “Baseline survey on Child Labour in selected areas: Samut Sakhon, Surat Thani and Songkhla provinces in Thailand”, which was funded by the International Labour Organization; the study on “Livelihood Opportunities and Labour Market for displaced persons in temporary shelters and surrounding communities” for “Sustainable Solutions to the Displaced People Situation along the Thai-Myanmar Border”, which was funded by the United Nations Development Program among others. Ms. Jidapa is interested in youth development because she believes that the capable youth will help maintain competiveness of their nations.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Negotiating Class: Youth Aspirations and (Under)Employment in Provincial Indonesia Suzanne NAAFS Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore [email protected]

This paper examines how Indonesian youth from lower middle class backgrounds seek to realize their aspirations for education and employment in the steel town of Cilegon in Banten, West Java. Urban youth aspirations often include a desire to pursue higher education, find stable, salaried employment and improve their families’ social standing. Yet, for lower middle class youth in provincial towns these aspirations are fraught with tensions and ambiguities. They are aware of a world of possibilities accessible through media, state ideologies and consumption, but face limited financial and educational resources to realize those aspirations within overcrowded regional job markets characterized by ‘jobless growth’ and high levels of informality. Although increasing numbers of lower middle class families invest in higher education and training for their children, their opportunities to economically benefit from schooling seem to be declining. Drawing on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2008 and 2013, I analyze how lower middle class youth in Cilegon navigate economic insecurity and educated underemployment during their entry into the labor market. Stable jobs and a secure income are difficult to come by, yet educated youth often insist on these markers of adult and Islamic respectability. Young men and women’s aspirations for the future typically follow a linear narrative of moving from education into stable work, getting married, finding housing and starting a family of their own. These goals persist, despite fluidity of jobs, informal economic activities and limited planning. In everyday reality, aspirations for the good life are only partly fulfilled and young people’s material and cultural claims to middle class status are thus unstable. I argue that young people’s experiences reflect both optimism and reveal considerable pressure to keep up with the material demands of everyday life. The paper concludes that social class as an aspirational category, rather than a mere socio-economic positioning, underpins young people’s job search and claims about participation in national and global standards of the ‘good life’.

Suzanne Naafs is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the ‘Changing family in Asia’ cluster at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. She received her PhD in Development Studies (specializing in youth studies) from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands in December 2012. Since 2007, she has conducted 16 months of ethnographic research on lower middle class youth in a regional town in Indonesia, investigating how young adults navigate the contemporary opportunities and uncertainties associated with educational change, labour market restructuring and neoliberal globalisation. She is currently revising her dissertation for publication as a monograph. Her work has been published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (2013) and The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology (2012).

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Securing our Future despite our State: Young Educated Nepalis’ Quest for Salaried Work within Political Turmoil Amanda SNELLINGER School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK [email protected]

In the last twenty years, Nepal’s literacy rate has increased over thirty percent and the number of people earning their School Leaving Certificates is up ten-fold. Families across socio-economic demographics have invested in their children’s education in the hopes that it will yield salaried work. This trend has increased while the government has adopted neo-liberal economic policies that have generally reduced the number of secure, life-long bureaucratic jobs that were so prized by the current generation’s parents. Thus, many young people have trouble securing stable employment both in government and private sectors. They are, however, impressively resourceful, experimenting with different tactics including: skilling-up, applying for multiple civil service vacancies, taking advantage of government loan schemes, out-migrating and engaging in illicit activities. State politics has influenced their strategies to secure work. So how do these young people conceptualize the government’s role in their struggles to carve their own pathways? This paper examines how educated Nepalese youth view political uncertainty caused by war and divisive politics and its impact on their lives. In the 21st century, Nepal has proven itself to be a negligent state. A decade of civil war (1996-2006) and ongoing democratic street protests (2003-2006) ultimately ousted the king and established a secular, multiparty democratic republic. Since 2008, the political parties have cycled through five different governments and undergone two constituent assembly elections as they struggle to rewrite the constitution. Local elections have not occurred since 2001, leaving the task of local governing first to all-party-mechanisms and then to appointed bureaucrats, which has allowed more scope for corruption with little accountability. The few government programs run for educated young people are inefficient and sporadic. These government programs attempt to bring unemployed youth into the “official” economic fold. However, I suggest that the inconsistency by which these programs are instituted creates a negative feedback loop that discourages people from investing fully in state sanctioned mechanisms. This case study reveals the stakes of tumultuous state politics and demonstrates how such politics has undermined many politicians’ aim to create a government in which people are invested.

Amanda Snellinger is a Postdoctoral Researcher at University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment, UK. She is researching the politics, social practices, and livelihood strategies of educated unemployed and underemployed youth in Nepal’s southern district of Parsa. This research is part of an ESRC team project entitled, “Alchemists of the Revolution?”, which is conducting comparative research in North India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. She received her PhD in anthropology from Cornell University. Her dissertation research focused on student politics as a institution in Nepal’s mainstream politics and the activist generation that fought to establish a democratic secular republic. She is writing a manuscript based on her dissertation entitled, Transfiguration of the Political: From Student Activists to Politicians in the making of “new Nepal”. She has published articles and book chapters on youth, activism, party politics, democratic theory, and secularism in South Asia.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Aspiration in the Time of Uncertainty: The Desires and Realities of Young People in India Rahul ADVANI Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore [email protected]

India’s youth are more important than ever, not only politically but also demographically, making up every third person in an Indian city. Through reviewing secondary literature as well as drawing on fieldwork that consisted of interviewing young people in Bihar on their social aspirations during September 2013, this paper will explore the political and social aspirations of young Indians across caste, class and gender. In the past few years, India has witnessed an education boom, with colleges mushrooming over the country. As a result, gaining admission into a college for the purposes of entering the formal employment sector (which before was never seen as a possibility for many working class and lower-middle class youth) has become highly aspirational. The rising demand for colleges in India has created a growing desire to work outside agriculture and industry. However, the inability of the service sector to accommodate the growing number of graduates has led to high rates of unemployment. With access and exposure to education creating the perception of agricultural and industrial labour as socially unacceptable, many young men in particular have turned towards the informal practice of politics as an alternative route to realizing their aspirations of being seen as ‘successful’ men. This paper will also examine how young upper-middle class men and women, who do not suffer from unemployment and emasculation to the same extent, are in fact starting to establish a political presence in ways that are, interestingly, quite similar to most other political youth in India who face these problems. India is experiencing rapid social and economic changes that include a move away from agriculture towards services, a debate that is beginning to question the nature of India’s politics and its treatment of women, and an increasing expectation among youth to not only attend college but also secure formal employment. All these affect what it means to be young in India. As a result, the aspirations of youth not only claim a greater presence in their everyday lives, but through increased politicization, also begin to leave its own distinctive mark on the political culture of the state.

Rahul Advani is a Research Assistant at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore. He graduated from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2012 with an MSc in South Asian Studies. His Master’s thesis examined honour killings and other forms of violence against inter-caste couples in India from a legal perspective by presenting how formal and customary law have enabled caste panchayats to prosecute inter-caste relationships. Prior to joining ISAS, Rahul worked at the Centre for Human Rights in Practice at the University of Warwick on a project to analyse the impact of international trade on human rights in developing countries. The project was published as a report for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Currently, Rahul is working with Professor John Harriss and Dr S Narayan of ISAS on a project exploring the social aspirations and political attitudes of young people in India, in collaboration with JNU (Delhi), MIDS (Chennai) and ADRI (Patna).

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

To Labour or to Lead? Education and Employment along the Thai-Burmese Border Su-Ann OH Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore [email protected]

Research on education and employment along the Thai-Burmese border has tended to fall into two distinct camps: refugee schools or migrant education. In reality, education, learning and employment in this borderland are much more interconnected than is suggested by the literature. This paper considers the education and learning along the Thai-Burmese border in refugee camps and migrant areas, taking into consideration the connections between the two, the limited employment opportunities available, the types of learning provided and the education pathways taken by Burmese youth. These pathways are non-linear detours, back roads and roundabouts figure largely – as these young people circumnavigate spaces of containment and/or move towards them to take advantage of education and employment opportunities. Using in-depth interviews conducted with young migrants and refugees studying and working in Maesot, this paper explores the types of learning available to them and the unconventional routes they have taken to gain access to them. Mae Sot and its surroundings have an unusually large number of migrant schools (referred to as learning centres by the Thai Ministry of Education) - 74 in total (VSO 2013, p.24) - compared to the other border towns Ranong (VSO 2013, p24), Three Pagodas Pass (Pearson and Kusakabe 2012a, p.130) and even Bangkok (VSO 2013, p24). When combined with the 32 schools in Mae La refugee camp (ZOA 2010), there are more than 100 schools for non-Thais. In 2008, it was estimated that there were 15 855 students and 981 teachers in the then 88 migrant schools (OEC 2008, p. 17), not counting those studying in the refugee camp. However, not all schools are created equal. Some are connected to large faith-based networks, some are training grounds for community leaders, while others form part of the process of social reproduction by which young Burmese nationals become integrated into the Thai economy, eventually replacing their parents in the factories, fisheries and farms of Thailand. The purpose of the paper is to situate young Burmese migrants’ aspirations and actions within this complex and bounded learning and employment landscape.

Su-Ann Oh is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies who graduated from the London School of Economics and completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on forced migration, education, exclusion, identity, the everyday experiences of refugees and displaced children, and the Thai-Burmese borderlands. She is currently editing a volume on the borders of Myanmar and writing a book on education in the refugee camps in Thailand.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

The Emotional Dimension of Cultural Capital: Singaporean Youth ‘Doing’ Aspiration through Private Higher Education in Singapore CHENG Yi’En School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford [email protected]

This paper examines how young people mobilise private higher education in contemporary Singapore as an ‘alternative’ resource to secure their futures. In the past decade, private institutes of higher education has seen an increasing number of young Singaporeans enrolling into their degree courses. I explore what this expansion of the higher education landscape might mean for young people, especially those who are unable to enter local universities, by drawing from ethnographic data collected for my ongoing doctoral study on youth, private higher education, and class production. This paper is primarily based on interviews and group discussions conducted with 35 young Singaporean men and women, between the age of 18 and 25. First, I examine the key aspirations that undergird these young people’s pursuit of degree education, with particular attention to the way they organise their futures around middle-class forms of work, family, and consumption. Second, I show how young people view private higher education as a form of ‘contradictory resource’ for those who are pushed off-track in a merit-driven educational system. Third, I delve into the emotional dimension of their educational experience to discuss how markers of educational distinction such as reputation and status affect young people’s perception of self-worth. This paper argues that even as PHE is offering young people opportunities to accrue education-related capital, this should not mask the everyday injuries and emotional costs emerging from their experience as ‘private degree students’.

Cheng Yi'En is a DPhil candidate at the School of Geography and the Environment, supported by the Clarendon Fund and St Peter's Diggle Scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours, First) in Geography with a minor in Gender Studies from the National University of Singapore in 2010. He also obtained a Masters of Social Sciences in Geography from the same institution with the support of a graduate scholarship in 2012. Yi'En's research interests span across the broad fields of social and cultural geographies, with particular attention to issues around youth, education, and transnational migration. His doctoral research examines the implications of private higher education for class re/production and social mobility amongst youth in contemporary Singapore. He has published on the cultural production of time amongst student migrants (Social & Cultural Geography), Singaporean men’s experience in international marriages (Area), the role of money in transnational families (Global Networks).

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

“Rustication” in Post-Mao China: Aspiration and Educational Remigration of Second-generation Migrant Youth Minhua LING Centre for China Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong [email protected]

Post-Mao China has witnessed massive internal migration, mostly from rural hinterlands to urban centers, since the kick-off of economic reforms in the late 1970s. Now an increasing number of second-generation migrants come of age in their parents’ adopted cities and become a key source of urban China’s labor pool. However, they are still deprived of proper urban residence status and public provisions in cities under China’s rural-urban dividing household registration (hukou) system. This paper examines the reverse flow of second-generation migrant youth from the city to the countryside for educational purposes. China’s standardized enrollment tests for senior high school and university requires students to be where their household registration is. Migrant youth who aspire to higher education thus have to return to their registered rural hometowns to prepare for the tests. Based on ethnographic data collected from twenty months of field research on the coming-of-age experience of second-generation migrant youth between 2006 and 2011, this paper delineates the decision-making processes and re-migratory routes experienced by migrant youth in order to examine the ambiguous subjectivities formed during oscillations between home and residence, rural and urban, dream and reality. Unlike the Maoist send-down youth campaigns during the Cultural Revolution, the new “rustication” movement in post-reform China seems to take place “naturally” out of individual ambitions. In official documents and mass media, such re-migration is considered a “return” because these migrant youth have rural hukou. The “return” is often taken for granted by urbanites and policymakers as the proper and unproblematic solution for aspiring migrant youth barred from local tests in cities. However, such seemingly natural and voluntary returns are by no means easier for migrant youth than for urban sent-down youth. This paper demonstrates how structural inequality, social alienation, and cultural differences make such “home” trips fraught with contradiction and frustration. It argues that the re-territorization of migrant students via remigration is not enough to make up for structural inequality and injustice, of which the hukou system marks only the tip.

Minhua Ling is Assistant Professor at the Centre for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong since August 2013. She received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Yale University in December 2012. Her research interests include migration and urbanization, education and social mobility, youth culture, urban space, labor and class formation, and state-society relations in socialism and late-socialism. Her dissertation work focuses on the emerging group of second-generation migrant youth who were either born or have grown up in their parents’ adopted cities. Through the case study of second-generation migrant youth, she explored how boundaries are remade, new impositions contested, and new opportunities pursued with desperation and ambivalence among youth in post-Mao China and other transitional economies.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Rural Internal Migrants Navigating Apprenticeships and Vocational Training: Insights from Cambodia and Laos Lyda CHEA Department of Media and Communication, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia [email protected]

Roy HUIJSMANS International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands [email protected]

The policy phrase Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is rapidly gaining ground across Southeast Asia (and beyond). TVET is centrally about ‘skills’ development and considered an important policy component in smoothening young people’s ‘school-to-work transition’. It is seen as increasing young people’s employability and earning capacity thus contributing to alleviating important youth-related social problems such as youth unemployment, intergenerational transmission of poverty, and the mismatch between schooling and the labour market. Despite the numerous reports written about TVET, little is known about how vocational training and education works as a field of practice, how young people negotiate it, and how it is part of being young whilst simultaneous aspirational and future-oriented. This is especially true for informal training and apprenticeships, yet; these are most ubiquitous. Combining analysis of policy documents with ethnographic material obtained from Cambodia and Laos, this paper goes some way to fill these voids. The empirical focus is on migrant youth in their teens and early twenties who have either left the countryside for ‘apprenticeships’ in urban areas (Laos and Cambodia) or who have entered ‘apprenticeships’ and/or training at subsequent points in their (internal) migratory projects (Cambodia). Based on the above, we make three principal points. First, policy discussions on TVET remain frequently limited to formal institutional spaces, with little attention to the ubiquitous, highly dynamic, private forms of training and apprenticing that most young migrants themselves seek out. Unlike the formal institutional spaces (modeled on modern forms of schooling), informal training practices provide important additional ‘skills’ seldom acquired in formal spaces. Second, our data show that young people’s entry into apprenticeships and vocational training seldom follows linear pathways. Instead, entry into particular forms of training is shaped by kin relations and young people’s own social networks and we find that young people mostly diverge from the imagined ‘education’- ‘training’- ‘work’ sequence. Third, whilst a gender perspective is adopted throughout, this offers most striking insights in relation to young people’s aspirations connected with their training and apprenticeships. Young people of both genders aspire to becoming self-employed, yet for distinctly gendered reasons.

Lyda Chea is a lecturer at the Department of Media and Communication (DMC) of Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Her research interests cover generally roles and positions of children and young people in developmental policies and practices. Her research includes, amongst other things, a project focused on experiences and perceptions of young Cambodian high school students in making use of ICTs for learning, and a project on young rural migrants navigating vocational training and apprenticeships in Phnom Penh. She holds a master’s degree in Development Studies (major in Social Policy for Development and a specialisation in Children and Youth Studies) from International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Roy Huijsmans is Senior Lecturer Children & Youth Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), which is located in The Hague and part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests include the generational dynamics of development, with a focus on children and young people. His work on migration by young people in the context of rural and politico-economic change in mainland Southeast Asia has been published in Childhood, Development & Change, Geoforum, the International Journal of Social Quality, and New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development. He is now moving to examine young people’s virtual mobilities through a focus on the interplay between digital capitalism, young people’s appropriation of mobile technologies and the reconfiguration of relations of belonging in rural Southeast Asia. Roy co-edits the Palgrave series on Children and Development.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Redefining Norms, Exploring New Avenues: Employment and Education Choices for Young Women in Delhi Sakshi KHURANA Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, India [email protected]

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a resettlement, working-class colony in Delhi, India, the paper explores how young women, predominantly from Muslim households, negotiate with their family members to allow them to take up vocational courses and ‘new’ forms of paid employment outside their homes. Norms of seclusion and protection prevented unmarried, younger women from taking up independent paid employment outside their homes. Hence, most of them took up home-based paid employment to supplement the earnings of the male breadwinner, or in other cases, to independently support the household. Some young women workers were compelled to work as sub-contractors in the garments sector, which led to their upward mobility. While social norms to do with women’s mobility remained important for women to exercise their agency, the paper looks at how, in subtle ways, these norms were being given new meanings and definitions by the negotiations of these young women at work and in their households. The increased mobility of some of these young women who were able to take up paid employment outside their homes, gave them a chance to explore new avenues and relationships, which were prohibited and denied to them earlier. The fieldwork for this study was carried out between August 2010 to October 2011. Groups of women studied include home-based workers, women working in garment factories and women sub-contractors. While the first two groups of women worked as wage workers, the last category of women formed a group of selfemployed entrepreneurs who took work orders from contractors and supplied pieces for embroidery to women home-based workers on piece-rates. Methods of data collection have included participant observation, a short socio-economic survey, interviews, narratives and group-discussions.

Sakshi Khurana has been a PhD Research Student at Department of Sociology, Delhi University, India since 2010 and also joined Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University, as Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) PhD Fellow in 2011. Her research interests have focussed on work and gender and informal labour. Her doctoral research has been on the theme of ‘Work, Family, Community and Neighbourhood: Lives of Women Informal Workers.’ This study, a work-in-progress, looks at the relationship between women’s paid work and their everyday lives at the workplace, in their family and in the community as well as how men’s unemployment or irregular employment might affect gender-relations in the household.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

‘So I Kind of Fit None of Them…’ Young Goan Migrant Youth and Employability Hierarchies in an Ordinary British City Esther ROOTHAM Department of Geography, National University of Singapore [email protected]

Linda MCDOWELL School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Abby HARDGROVE School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

The social problem of youth unemployment attracts a high degree of media and political attention in Europe in the contemporary recessionary economic times. This article is based on a qualitative study exploring un(der)employment among a cross-section of young men in Swindon, a medium sized town in Southern England carried out in 2012-13. Based on interviews with 38 un(der)employed men, including migrants and non-migrants, aged 18 to 25, as well as youth service providers and employers, the research shed light on the heterogeneity of the experience of young men’s struggles to secure work in the ‘new’ economy, increasingly dominated by service-sector and insecure work. Their experience is shaped by the conflicting and contradictory ways in which unemployed youth are constructed as undeserving of full citizenship and belonging in the welfare state, either as benefit scroungers lacking appropriate work ethic or, in the case of migrants, as illegitimate competitors for scarce work opportunities. In this paper, the focus will be on the aspirations and experiences of a subset of participants in the study: a group of ten young men who migrated from Goa, India. At the time of the interviews, these participants all held a Portuguese passport and hence were entitled to work in the UK, eligible for the latter because their fathers held a Portuguese passport, as they had either been born in Goa before 1961 or born in Portugal or Portuguese territories in Africa. Interviews with employers revealed that stereotypical assumptions about race and nationality construct Goan young men as hard-working, yet unskilled. Specifically, the emerging and localised hierarchy of employability in Swindon positions Goan men above white working class young men, constructed as having a poor work ethic, but below migrants from Eastern European, portrayed as the ideal and most employable workers. The paper will examine the aspirations and experiences of young Goan men as they struggled to secure decent employment in these circumstances.

Esther Rootham is currently a teaching fellow at the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Prior to arriving at NUS in 2013, she worked as a postdoctoral research with Professor Linda McDowell on a Leverhulme Trust funded research project as part of the Oxford Diasporas Programme. The study explored the varied experience of worklessness amongst young men with different migration histories in two British towns. Her doctoral thesis, completed in 2012 at the University of Oxford examined the production of young people’s intersectional identities in the context of dominant ideologies, secularism/laicite, postfeminism, and neoliberalism in France. Her research interests include processes of racialisation, the politics and performativity of categorization, and the connections between economic restructuring and the production of gender, race and class and other social boundaries.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Shaping Identity of Indonesian Young Generation in United States of America Uwes FATONI Department of Communication Studies, State Islamic University, Indonesia [email protected]

Education plays a key role in providing the younger generation with knowledge, competences and skills and improving their lives in future. In Indonesia, learning and achievement at universities abroad are given high social status. The United State of America (USA) attracts many young Indonesian people for studying. However, they face some obstacles in USA like coping with the difference in languages, differences in culture, and the high cost of living. By using qualitative research with a phenomenological approach from Alfred Schutz, I examine young Indonesians motives to travel to America and their processes in shaping their identities as an Indonesian diaspora. The subject of study was Indonesian young people who came to California for studying in internationally reputable universities such as UCLA (University of California Los Angeles), UCR (University of California Riverside), and UCSB (University of California Santa Barbara). Based on my observations and in-depth interviews it can be concluded that their main motives to study in US Universities were to gain the best education, the best job opportunity and the highest social status. While, in shaping their identities as an Indonesian diaspora, these students also continued to communicate with significant others, people who had significant position in their lives, and with new reference groups such as Permias (Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat /Indonesian Student Unions in USA), and Komunitas Muslim California (California Muslim Community).

Uwes Fatoni is a Lecturer of Communication studies in Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) / State Islamic University SGD Bandung Indonesia and PhD graduate from Universitas Padjadjaran Bandung. Now, he is a visiting research scholar at Orfalea Center University of California Santa Barbara USA (January-April 2014). He is also a founder of "Indonesian Islamic Communication Studies" (IICS), a writer of popular articles in Indonesian newspapers, and active in delivering presentations for seminars/conferences such as the International Conference on Islam in the Malay World (ICON IMAD) III 2013 in Bandung and the International Conference on Religious Diversity and Civil Identity 2013 in Yogyakarta.

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Youthful Futures? Aspirations, Education and Employment in Asia (5-6 May 2014) Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore - Tower Block, Level 10, Bukit Timah Road

Opportunities, Challenges, and Transitions: Educational Aspirations of Pakistani Migrant Youth in Hong Kong Wai-chi CHEE Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong [email protected]

Cultural differences are often used to explain the perceived lack of learning motivations among ethnic minority students and to justify their disproportionate academic underachievement. In Hong Kong, a commonly held belief is that ethnic minority parents do not endorse the values of education as much as Chinese parents. However, the voices of ethnic minority parents and children are seldom heard. Through the experiences of nine Pakistani migrant families in Hong Kong, this research seeks to explore ethnic minority students’ aspirations for education, work, and the future. Data were collected through home visits and in-depth semistructured interviews with nine parents and nineteen children (9 boys and 10 girls), aged from 13 to 22, studying in junior secondary to tertiary institutes. This paper consists of three parts, which discuss opportunities, challenges, and transitions respectively. The first part depicts the aspirations and opportunities of the second generation of Pakistani migrants. Contrary to common perception, they have high aspirations in both education and work. An important source of support come from parents who realize the instrumentalities of education in a modern city like Hong Kong – mainly through their own bitter experiences of lacking opportunities due to low education. Another promise is the recent increase in interest in multiculturalism and ethnic equalities in Hong Kong society. The second part investigates the potential challenges. One challenge is the hidden structural constraints in education system and job market which limit the space of ethnic minorities but shift the blame to individual efforts. More remarkably, the research found that a main obstacle actually comes from co-ethnic groups who pressurize the families in this research to conform to certain cultural practices which may jeopardize the education of the children. Examples include early marriage of school age children. The third section focuses on possibilities and transitions. It examines how these young people understand their constraints and opportunities; how they see themselves situated in the discrepancies between the social norm of their co-ethnic community and that of the dominant Chinese society; how they explore possibilities for education and employment; and how they understand their agency as a source for future change.

Wai-chi Chee obtained her PhD in Anthropology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is currently a lecturer at the same department. She has also been a visiting predoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. Her research interests include migration, education, youth, globalization, governance, grassroots activism, ethnicity, and culture and identity. Geographical areas of her research include mainland China, Hong Kong, and South Asia. She has published in several international journals including Asian Anthropology, Taiwan Journal of Anthropology, Ethnography and Education, and Multicultural Education Review. She is also a contributor to Refugees, Immigrants, and Education in Global South (Routledge) and Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia (Routledge).

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