Sari Damar Ratri

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Northwestern U.

Grant number

Gr. 10145

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Ratri, Sari (Northwestern U.) "Nourishing the Future: The Roles of Midwives in Indonesia’s Changing Health Development Policies"

In July 2019, President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo made a public speech that marked a major change in direction of national health policy — from emphases on pregnancy risks and “modern” childbearing to child-stunting prevention programs. Following the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, Indonesia plans to prevent a decline in national growth due to stunting. This study examines midwives’ experiences in trying to continuously adjust to Western cultural ideals of bureaucracy and guidelines as the consequences of the national government’s interests in the Bank’s initiative to focus on child stunting. I use ethnographic methods including documents and media research, participant-observation, and interviews with a range of actors and institutions involved in the implementation of stunting programs in the rural Manggarai highlands, East Nusa Tenggara. The semiotic approach informing this study offers an opportunity to understand how midwives read, understand, and articulate the “human capital” ideology, which considers children as worthy of investment for their future economic value. Through ethnographic investigation with midwives as development actors, this study will explain how the normative value of children that is constructed through different phases of development in Indonesia is translated and rationalized locally as officials try to ensure their programs’ viability.