Nineteen: The lives of Jakarta street vendors

Nineteen: The lives of Jakarta street vendors

Nineteen: The lives of Jakarta street vendors Eni, the Jamu seller in the dockyards of North Jakarta Pak Hepi, the chicken soup seller on the platform at the station Cahyan, the successful snack seller In 2008, Mercy Corps in Indonesia invited Josh Estey and me to...
Book Review: The Last Wild Men of Borneo

Book Review: The Last Wild Men of Borneo

Carl Hoffman’s The Last Wild Men of Borneo consists of the stories of two very different men who had practically nothing in common except their common obsession with the island of Borneo. The first of these was Bruno Manser, a rugged Swiss idealist who in the 1980s...
Community Theater for People with Disabilities

Community Theater for People with Disabilities

Theatre is the art of looking at ourselves – Augusto Boal, Founder of the Theatre of the Oppressed Ekawati Liu invited me to come out to Sleman, where she was doing her research into the livelihood choices of Indonesian villagers with disabilities to document a...
Coffee farmers in harmony with the forest

Coffee farmers in harmony with the forest

A few years ago, I traveled to the districts of Tapanuli Utara, Tapanuli Selatan, and Mandhailing Natal on an assignment for Conservation International, to look at how the Sustainable Landscapes Project was teaching coffee, rubber and cacao farmers how to get more...
Tribal Ink: Writing stories on human skin

Tribal Ink: Writing stories on human skin

The Owl wanted another tattoo. She already had a few, done using a modern gun. Iriene loves owls, night birds like herself. She’s an audiophile, living in a world of sound and radio waves and music, so she already had a tattoo of a grumpy, serious looking owl, wearing...
Merdeka! Climbing the greasy pole in Sentiong

Merdeka! Climbing the greasy pole in Sentiong

This is the second time I’ve shot the guys in my kampung celebrating Indonesia’s Independence day. In case it’s not obvious from the photos, this involves the erection of a wooden pole, fairly smooth, like a clean tree trunk, which is then smeared...
The case of Gregorius Rato

The case of Gregorius Rato

“In 2011, Gregorius Rato, a PNPM district-level technical facilitator with more than ten years’ experience, moved to South Amanuban in West Timor to take up a post there. Observing the project’s procurement processes, he soon came to suspect that the prices of...

Sitor Situmorang: An Island on an Island

I wrote this article in 2005, for the Garuda Inflight magazine, when Pramoedya and Sitor were both still alive. The photograph of the two men together was taken by Poriaman Sitanggang one memorable day when he was taking Sitor up to visit Pramoedya, with me tagging...

The Phoenix: The blog rising from the ashes

I created this blog about seven or eight years ago, not long after Invisible People was published. At the time, it was intended to be mainly a blog about the process of writing that book. And then … well, after I’d written and published a few posts about...