The everyday conduct of inter-ethnic marriages in Indonesia : participants navigating points of tension and cultivating harmony through adaptive socio-cultural practices : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Inter-ethnic marriages are a pressing issue in many culturally diverse countries. In Indonesia, inter-ethnic marriages comprise approximately 11% of all marriages. Researchers have predicted that this number will increase due to increasingly positive public perceptions of inter-ethnic marriages among younger generations of Indonesians. However, more research is needed to deepen present understandings of the everyday conduct of such unions. This thesis explores the dynamic inter-cultural, relational, spatial and material dimensions of the everyday conduct of 10 inter-ethnic marriages between Javanese and Chinese persons in East Java, Indonesia. Particular attention is paid to how couples navigate points of inter-cultural tension in their shared efforts to realise harmony in their marriages. This is done through adaptive socio-cultural practices. I also consider how inter-ethnic marriages can function as encounter spaces within which people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds come together to cultivate shared and culturally hybrid lives that draw from the cultural traditions of both partners. This thesis is based around three international publications. The first article conceptualises inter-ethnic marriages as third spaces for inter-cultural re-assemblage. I document the use of various agentive social practices that enable participants to combine key elements of Javanese and Chinese Indonesian cultural assemblages within their inter-ethnic marriages. The second article explores how inter-cultural tensions in the conduct of inter-ethnic marriages are managed by participants through often mundane social practices that contribute to the socio-cultural construction of various locales, across which couples forge their lives together. The third article documents how money, related objects, and practices are often implicated in the inter-cultural relational dynamics, tensions and culturally hybrid practices that emerge when persons from different cultural backgrounds cooperate to forge new lives together. Overall, this thesis contributes to the psychology of inter-ethnic marriages by offering new insights into the ways in which Javanese and Chinese Indonesians conduct their everyday lives together. In particular, this thesis highlights the centrality of approaching inter-ethnic marriages between Javanese and Chinese Indonesians as an intimate and socio-structural process that needs to be understood within the broader context of historical inter-group relations. Accordingly, this research bridges the gap between local experiences of conducting inter-ethnic marriages and broader societal shifts in terms of how members of Javanese and Chinese cultural groups can strive agentively to cultivate more harmonious lives together.
Listed in 2022 Dean's List of Exceptional Theses
Interethnic marriage, Javanese (Indonesian people), Chinese, Social psychology, Indonesia, Jawa Timur, Dean's List of Exceptional Theses