Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bangkok Musings

 I have not posted in sometime. Those interested in a Holiday/Christmas greeting and pictures may see it HERE. The three of us went to Bangkok last week. It was an enjoyable trip. However, there was an electrical failure of the "skytrain" system on Tuesday that made getting around the city difficult. We were also advised not to go into areas of the city where protests were occurring. Yet we were able to get to the places we wanted to see. The National Palace in Bangkok is magnificent! We also enjoyed the aquarium. A disappointment was a trip to see the "floating market" and elephant ride. We paid for a private taxi driver who took us to places that charged too much, and the venues were of very poor quality. After spending a few unhappy hours there, we returned to Bangkok early. We then went to the market near the MoChin stop and found an excellent shopping area. Donna is already looking at a return visit--and a trip to the Huahin beach--suitable for families.

Tomorrow afternoon we leave for a short trip to Taiwan to see family and friends. Will post pictures on Facebook later.
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Friday, September 13, 2013

On September 12 I went to a meeting of the Singkawang Association 山口洋地區鄉親會. It also called Permasis in Indonesian.

This meeting was set up by Mr. Hartono, 李伯巧, whom Aimee introduced me to the first week I was in Jakarta. As noted below, I did not know what to expect before I went to the meeting. I thought I would speak with just a few people. Instead, it was a meeting of the association as a whole that was arranged to accommodate my schedule. I was overwhelmed. They spoke Mandarin at the meeting for my benefit. I asked afterward how they normally conducted meetings, and Fuidy Luckman, who was very nice to me, said they spoke a mixture of Hakka and Indonesian.

Fortunately that morning I took time to do an overall analysis of the interviews, counting the number of marriages with Taiwanese men discussed by participants involving themselves (women) or a close family member. The total is 22, and of these 15 were described as “good” and 7 as “bad.” This may seem to indicate that marrying a Taiwanese man is a good thing, as a majority worked out well. The problem is that the “bad” marriages were really bad. The stories of abuse that were suffered by these women were horrid and should not be allowed. Even one bad marriage, like those described to me, was one bad marriage too many. (What I did not mention was that some people told me women may cheat their husbands in Taiwan. This is something I heard of when in Taiwan. So treating the other person badly may go both ways. But the numbers are unequal, and neither justifies this practice.)

After I spoke for about 15 minutes (recorded), the Dongshizhang (don’t know his name) chaired the meeting and directed the ensuing discussion. Seven men took turns, each speaking 10-20 minutes about their experiences, knowledge of this matter, and what they saw to be solutions. Common themes were that Singkawang was poor because of anti-Chinese policies, the so-called paihua 排華. Mr. Li (and others?) said that the people of Singkawang fought against the Dutch, suffered at the hands of the Japanese, then after independence, and the anti-Communist coup of Suharto in 1965, suffered many deaths. The result is that Singkawang was impoverished, making it a community distinct from most other Chinese communities and populations that were wealthy.

The city began “exporting” its women to Taiwan in the 1970s. (I interviewed a woman married to a Taiwanese soldier in 1969.) Some of these were poor and destitute prostitutes. Others were young girls fo 15, 16, forced into marriage by their parents. Singkawang had many young girls, and Taiwan, with its large population of unmarried (or separated) mainland soldiers, had a need for brides. (There may have been a sex imbalance ratio at the time due to the large number of killings in 1965. Presumably more males were killed than females.) These girls were sent to marry Taiwanese men by their parents, some willingly and others not. Many, however, did “well” in their marriages. This also happened with Indonesian men, as an Indonesian general (don’t know name) took for a second wife a young woman from SKw. Poverty was clearly a motivating factor. It set up a pattern of migration by marriage from skw to Taiwan that became known in the community, and presumably was known in Taiwan. Skw has the reputation of being not only the city of a thousand temples, but also the city of young women, or “Kota Amoy.” 城市阿妹 In addition to narrating the motivating factors, the men expressed a number of the same discursive themes that I heard in skw. One man said marriage was a 緣分的問題. (a question of fate)  Another said 生女孩子 美金 (giving birth to daughters is like giving birth to US money). They spoke of the pattern of sisters leading each other. Speaker 3 said he knew of a family where the older daughter married a man in Taiwan. The younger daughter did not marry right away, and resisted. Finally she married the oldest brother of her sister’s husband’s family. But also in the past there was a resistance for people to share bad news. (I might site my transgressions paper as it fits well.) Thus, even if a daughter entered into a bad marriage, she was reluctant to share it with others. And if this news even reached her family in SKW, they were reluctant to tell their neighbors and extended family members. Another point came from number 6, who said that sometimes if a woman did not want to marry a Tw husband, the family would put pressure on her, asking her if she “loved” her family (listen to recording). It was their duty to sacrifice for their family. Finally, number 4 said that Taiwanese women are also part of the problem. While women from Skw work hard and can accept hardship, Taiwanese women cannot. Thus, they will not marry a man in the countryside and accept such a life.
Solutions that they see are found through economic development and education. They said that there are no factories in skw, and that girls will 賣身 (engage in prostitution, or sell themselves to Taiwanese husbands) instead of gain an education.  The city of Pontianak (Kundian in Chinese) was mentioned a number of times as a place that was better because of its factories. Yes, factories do provide jobs and can lead those who work in them to a better life. However, driving through Pontianak was not a pretty sight. It is a sprawling, dirty, and totally uninviting city. Singkawang is a much better place, with a cleaner environment, and without polluting factories. Singkawang does not need factories like Pontianak. Rather, it could benefit from an ecologically sensitive economy, one that preserves and protects its natural beauty while drawing in visitors who will spend money there. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Publications

Recently my University of Oklahoma webpage was deactivated. Since I have adjunct status with OU, I am able to reactivate it. But it will take me some time and is a task for later.

One item that I would like to make public, and is difficult to do with the University of Macau website--I do not have personal control over it--is my CV and list of publications. Using Dropbox I am able to present this information publicly and post it to this blog. Those interested in some of my work may access this using the following:

Todd Sandel's CV--2014

Select Publications
Sandel, T. L. (2014). “Oh,I’m here!”: Social media’s impact on the cross-cultural adaptation of students
studying abroad. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research. 43(1), 1-29.
Sandel, T. L., Wong Lowe, A., & Chao, W-Y. (2012). What does it mean to be Chinese?: Studying values as perceived by Chinese immigrants to the United States and by their children. In S. J. Kulich, M. H. Prosser, & L. P. Weng (Eds.), Value frameworks at the theoretical crossroads of culture. Intercultural research, Vol. 4 (pp.529-558). Shanghai, China: Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. 
Homsey, D.,& Sandel, T. L. (2012). The code of food and tradition: Exploring a Lebanese
(American) speech code in practice in Flatland. Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 41(1), 59-80.
Sandel, T. L.(2011). Is it just cultural?: Exploring (mis)perceptions of individual
and cultural differences of immigrants through marriage in contemporary Taiwan. China Media Research, 7(3), 43-55.

Sandel, T. L. (2010). Tales of thebitter and sweet: A study of a Taiwanese master story and transgression narratives as shared cross-generationally in Taiwanese families. Narrative Inquiry, 20(2), 325-348
Sandel, T. L., & Liang, C-H.(2010). Taiwan’s fifth ethnic group: A study of the acculturation and cultural fusion of women who have married into families in Taiwan. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. 3(3), 249-275

Gries, P. H.,Crowson, H. M., & Sandel, T. L. (2010). The Olympic effect on American attitudes towards China: beyond personality, ideology, and media exposure. Journal of Contemporary China, 19(64), 213-231.

Ivanov, B., Parker, K. A., Nicholas, C. L.,& Sandel, T. L. (2010). Cohesiveness as ideoculture: An ethnography of a soccer team. The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 5 (3), 105-117.

Sandel, T., L., Cho, G.. E.,Miller. P. J., & Wang, S. H. (2006). What it means to be a grandmother: A cross-cultural study of Taiwanese and Euro-American grandmothers’ beliefs. Journal of Family Communication, 6, 255-278.
Sandel, T. L., Liang, C. H., & Chao, W. Y. (2006) Language shift and language accommodation across family generations in Taiwan. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 27, 126-147.
Cho, G. E., Sandel, T. L., Miller, P. J., Wang, S. (2005). What do grandmothers think about self-esteem? American and Taiwanese folk theories revisited. Social Development, 14, 701-721.
Sandel, T. L. (2004). Narrated relationships: Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law justifying conflicts in Taiwan’s Chhan-chng. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 37, 365-398.
Sandel, T. L. (2003). Linguistic capital in Taiwan: The KMT’s Mandarin language policy and its perceived impact upon the language practices of bilingual Mandarin and Tai-gi speakers. Language in Society, 32 (4), 523-551.
Sandel, T. L. (2002) Kinship address: Socializing young children in Taiwan. Western Journal of Communication, 66, 257-280.
Miller, P. J., Wang, S. H., Sandel, T.L., & Cho, G. E. (2002). Self-esteem as folk theory: A comparison of European-American and Taiwanese mothers’ beliefs. Special Issue: “Parental ethnotheories: Cultural practice and normative development” in Parenting: Science and Practice, 2, 209-239.
Miller, P. J., Sandel, T. L., Liang, C. H., & Fung, H. (2001). Narrating transgressions in Longwood: The discourses, meanings, and paradoxes of an American socializing practice. Ethos, 29, 159-186.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Singkawang, Jakarta and Elysium

Singkawang, Jakarta and Elysium
These past two weeks I have been in Indonesia visiting new places and meeting new people. This trip came about not by plan, but by a chance meeting with Dr. Sunny Lie at a conference in Nebraska last year. I presented a paper on my past study of Taiwan’s “foreign brides” and she was in the audience. After the talk, she said her family came from Singkawang (山口洋 in Chinese), and that it is a place notable for the large number of young women who married Taiwanese men. As part of my research I had long wanted to visit such a place, and we began to talk about the project that now is being carried out.

Last week I was in Singkawang, assisted by Sunny’s cousin, Ulung Wijaya. He was the perfect man for the job, fluent in English, Mandarin, Hakka, and Indonesian. Through him I came to know members of his family who all helped, most especially his brother-in-law AThong. I also met his other brother-in-law, Steven, who led us on a one-day trip to the city of Sambas, and a place I hope to visit again next year. The people, food, scenery, pleasant weather, and experiences were all highlights. It also gave me a far deeper understanding of the impacts of this kind of marriage migration—positive and negative—than I had from the time I spent in Taiwan. I plan to write findings from this trip in a chapter of a book manuscript that I am working on and hope to finish soon.

The first few days of my trip to Indonesia were spent in Jakarta. In addition to meeting with Professor Aimee Dawis who had visited me in Macau this past April, I also met with people she knows, and Iwan Santosa, the reporter for Kompas. Iwan has been most generous and gracious, explaining many things to me. He has treated me to meals and took me on a memorable trip to Tangerang, an ethnic Chinese community near Jakarta. For some nice pictures of local temples see here. And to learn about the beautiful Benteng Museum, owned and run by the gracious Udaya Halim, see here.After the week in Singkawang I am back in Jakarta, revisiting with some and meeting others for the first time.

While there is much that is enjoyable, and wonderful to see and experience in Indonesia, there are also challenges. The biggest is traffic. In Jakarta, the traffic situation is worse than I could have imagined; traffic jams begin early in the morning and last until late at night. In most parts of the city it is dangerous to walk as there are no sidewalks, or the sidewalks are so poorly maintained or occupied that you must walk on the road. And the constant flow of cars, buses, and motor scooters makes walking on the road unpleasant and dangerous.
In Singkawang, fortunately, the traffic volume is much less and getting around town is much less of a problem. Yet the roads that link such places as Singkawang and Pontianac, or Singkawang and Sambas, are two-lane highways that are far too narrow, and inadequate for the types of vehicle users and traffic volume. As we were traveling on the road, a passenger car may be traveling at 80-100 km (50-60 mph), but suddenly have to slow down to avoid hitting an elderly person walking on the road, or a child on a bicycle, to say nothing of the thousands of motor scooters that weave along the road. It reminds me of Taiwan’s situation 20+ years ago. However, at the time Taiwan was also constructing many roads and highways—projects that make travel in Taiwan much better now than the past. In Indonesia I saw no such signs of road building. It is unimaginable to see a country totally ignore the transportation needs of the present, and seemingly turn a blind eye to the increased traffic needs of coming years and decades.

Jakarta and Elysium

Jakarta is a city of some 20 million inhabitants, that has a rich and varied history, and mix of styles of architecture, from towering new office buildings and apartments, to the villas and beautiful homes built during the Dutch colonial past, to the shanties, shacks, and small residencies that were put up by the millions of poor people who moved to the city in recent decades. It has its places of beauty and squalor closely juxtaposed, a hodge podge of architectural styles spread across a huge city landscape.

Two evenings past, on Monday, after spending a busy day in other parts of the city and meeting people, I returned to my hotel late in the evening. Since I had not yet eaten, I decided to walk through the neighborhood hoping to find a reasonably priced, and sanitary looking place to eat. Yet as I walked along the streets of this neighborhood, all the places that I saw looked very unsanitary. I finally came to a street side vendor who was serving fried rice that looked good, and was doing well as there was a line of customers waiting to be served. I decided to try it. I waited, and was eventually given a serving that was wrapped in wax paper and put inside a plastic bag. It cost me only 8,000 rupiah, or the equivalent of about 75 cents (USD). This is the kind of food consumed by the millions of poor residents of Jakarta on a daily basis. The next day I went to a mall in downtown Jakarta, Central Park.

I met Sunny and her cousin there, Henry, and we talked about differences between Jakarta Chinese and Chinese from Singkawang and other parts of Indonesia. They claimed there is a bias, that Chinese Indonesians see themselves as part of the center, the cultural elites, or neidao 內島, while all others are seen as unrefined, coming from outside, waidao 外島. This is an interesting observation.

My second observation was to compare the place where we were—inside this amazing mall—with the previous evening’s meal from a street vendor. While the latter was serving his food outside, in the heat, in a neighborhood bordered by the stench of an untreated, open sewer, the former was inside, air-conditioned, in an opulent and beautiful mall. The malls of Jakarta are far bigger, opulent, than anything that I have seen in the US. (The mall in the Venetian and Sands of Macau is comparable, but different in design.) At the lower level, on the inside part of the mall, you could walk out into a park (like Central Park) that was open, with trees, benches, music. People were walking around and enjoying themselves. There were no scooters or cars to dodge. There were no unpleasant smells from the sewer, or fear of being robbed by thieves. There were many young people in the mall, people who were fashionable, beautifully dressed, beautiful in appearance. They contrasted greatly with those walking on the alley way of the previous evening, many of whom were elderly, children, or the ubiquitous seedy and dangerous looking male youths who ostensibly do not work, and as Iwan told me, may be taking drugs.

On the far side of this park was a row of restaurants and cafes. Many were chains from the US, such as Starbucks, Dante Coffee, etc. These were not the most expensive kinds of restaurants, but compared to the food offered by the street vendor very expensive. For dinner on Thursday I ate a serving of garlic bread, small pizza, and a Lychee tea. It cost me 170,000 Rupiah, or about 15$ (US). Thus, it was more than 15 times the cost of my previous night’s meal.

After dinner I went to watch a movie in the mall’s cinema. (If I left earlier, I would have been stuck in traffic. After the movie ended at 10 pm, the taxi ride to the hotel took about 20 minutes. Yet an ealier departure would have meant a ride of at least an hour.) I watched Elysium (the ticket cost me about $3 USD), the film starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster that portrays a struggle between a post-apocalyptic population on earth, controlled by machines, brutally suppressed, and the rich and powerful people who live on a space ship in the sky, Elysium. The latter is a perfectly controlled environment inhabited by beautiful people, revolving around the earth, visible but unreachable by those on earth. While those on the ship have all that they want, have access to amazing health care, beautiful surroundings, those on earth live in a destitute environment, lacking all but the most basic health care. The movie is driven by the desire of those on earth to be healed, with treatment given only to those who are “citizens” and reside on Elysium.

As I watched the movie I could not help but see comparisons between the fictional world of the future and present-day Jakarta. This is a city of two worlds living side-by-side. One part of the city is occupied by millions of poor residents, who live in substandard housing, must navigate a dangerous traffic situation, have few safe public places for recreation, and very limited access to health care. The other part lives in nice, beautiful housing, is transported from place to place in air-conditioned, large private cars, recreates in beautiful, air-conditioned malls, works in places that are guarded by security, and may go elsewhere, to “Elysium”—Singapore, Australia, Thailand—to receive health care. Today’s Jakarta is the embodiment of a post-apocalyptic world of haves and have nots. It makes it understandable why violence breaks out cyclically, over the course of decades. There must be an underlying resentment, a desire among many of the poor to have what the rich possess, that given the right conditions will lead to violence and the attempt to take by force what is not provided from the beautiful, controlling, and corrupt rules of Jakarta.