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"Brothers Will Be Everywhere": Youth Involvement in Martial Arts as the East Timorese Displaced Persons Struggle for Recognition in Their Community in Naibonat, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Realisa D. Masardi


In recent years, increasing research has been done concerning the condition of children and youths in refugee and other forced displacement categories (Hart 2014; Cook 2011; Ensor and Gozdziak 2010). Massive studies have been conducted on displaced youth using three broad approaches: “mental health and social,” “legal,” and “ethnographic” (Hart 2014). Following the “ethnographic” tradition, this research touches on the issues of education, friendship, and supportive networks, and in particular on the level of youths’ political engagement. Instead of having an excessive focus on “trauma,” this chapter grapples more with the “resilience” of youths. Nevertheless, there is still a significant attempt to

I acknowledge financial support for this research from the Faculty of Cultural Science, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta. I also thank Dr. Lono Lastoro Simatupang for the intensive supervision.

R.D. Masardi (*)

Department of Anthropology, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta,


© The Author(s) 2016 257

M.O. Ensor, E.M. Gozdziak (eds.), Children and Forced Migration,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40691-6_11

give a balanced description on the three interlocking principles of protection, provision, and participation in order to analyze the youths’ actions and positions on the perspective that agency and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive (Ensor and Gozdziak 2010).

There are some general mechanisms of durable solutions for internally displaced children such as sustainable reintegration at the place of origin (return), local integration in the place where the people take refuge, and settlement in other parts of the country (IASC 2010). The solution must meet conditions of safety (i.e., legal safety, physical security, material security) and dignity (Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict 2010). Following the logic of the general solution, this study aims to reveal the conditions of youths who were internally displaced from East Timor and resettled in West Timor under an unfinished resettlement scheme after East Timor had been separated from Indonesia and formed into Timor Leste.

Against the backdrop of the complexity of “refugee,” “internally displaced persons,” and “new citizen” classifications, and as a result of the separation of a territory into two countries, this chapter presents the youths’ struggle to gain recognition and their strategies to secure their future, within a constant navigation of belonging. The strategies are often combined with violent activities (e.g., martial arts), which confirm their cultural and masculine identity as East Timorese. Because predominant literatures on this topic mainly discuss Timor Leste’s historical aspects, its political-economic constellation, or human rights violations in East Timor under Indonesia’s rule, this chapter attempts to fill the overlooked issue of the younger generation in the East Timorese community in Indonesia, particularly in Naibonat; they are trapped in precarious conditions because of the absence of a durable solutions program.

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