New Marginals, Old Marginals in the Age of COVID-19


This project is an ethnographic study of how certain groups have been coping with a global pandemic of COVID-19 caused by a novel pathogenic coronavirus: SARS-CoV-2. Recent scholarly attention and emergency responses focus more on preparing the upcoming “new normal” in a context of living harmony with the disease and less on the marginalization of certain groups in that process.

We frame our research within the field of disaster studies perceiving the virus as another natural feature which would only turn into a disaster when it meets with vulnerable ecological, social, political and cultural structures. Our research will identify these structures emphasizing on the role of the government in creating them.

We will investigate marginality by considering intersectional ecological, social, cultural, and political variables. Specific attention will focus on how various population managements to control the disease is marginalizing preexisting vulnerable groups and creating new ones.

The project will address two questions. In which ways are preexisting marginal groups vulnerable prior to, in the course of, and in the aftermath of the pandemic? To what extent has the pandemic politics become a new structure of vulnerability for preexisting marginal groups and creating new ones?

A research team consisting of members from various backgrounds will conduct patchwork ethnography to identify certain marginal groups in different cities in Indonesia and produce life history narratives of these groups. Relying on our information networks, we focus on in/capability of the government tackling the crisis as another structure of marginalization.


PI: Dr. phil. Anton Novenanto (University of Brawijaya, Malang)

Co-PI: Dr. Ngurah Suryawan (Warmadewa University, Denpasar)

Research consortium members: Laila Azkia (University of Lambung Mangkurat; Banjarmasin, South Borneo), Nuzul Solekhah (Ministry of Social Affairs; Yogyakarta, Central Java), Erina Saputri (PKBI; South Jakarta), Fitri Widowati (independent researcher; Mataram, Lombok), Syaiful Anam (EUTENIKA; Pamekasan, Madura), Palupi Y. Pitakaningrum (BP3TKI; Bandar Lampung, Sumatera), Gadi Makitan (independent researcher; Tangerang, Banten), Yuni Kurniawaty (STIKES Vincentius a Paulo; Surabaya, East Java), Baswara Y. Kristama (University of Ciputra; Surabaya, East Java); Lutfi Amiruddin (University of Brawijaya, Malang, East Java).