Jessica Hsiang-Chieh Peng

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Pennsylvania, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10021

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Peng, Jessica (Pennsylvania, U. of) "Archipelagic "Potentials": Infrastructures, Labor, and Education in Indonesia"

What would an ethnography of potentiality look like? This project pursues this endeavor in the sprawling archipelagic nation of Indonesia, where policymakers in the country’s mega-metropolitan capital of over 30 million people and youth attending an agricultural vocational school on a remote, outer-island are connected by a common thread: their everyday engagement with the concept of “potential” (potensi). In light of the central government’s commitment to “develop Indonesia from its margins” by leveraging the “potentials” of the country’s poorest areas, this study will examine the everyday activities of social actors across three scales of workforce development activities to discern how linkages between new infrastructures, emergent markets, and novel educational practices shape conceptualizations of potentiality at different levels of society. This study will address how these conceptions guide the terms through which these social actors take part in the collective making of a “skilled” labor force at Indonesia’s margins. By taking a multi-scalar approach, the research will show how ideas about the potentials of certain people and things circulate, change, and interact with one another. Ultimately, this study seeks to demonstrate the vital role that potentiality plays in everyday social processes and contribute to the development of an anthropology of potentiality.