Ageing in displacement: East Timorese diasporas in Indonesia

Victoria Kumala Sakti

Her research examines the experiences of ageing in displacement among elderly East Timorese diasporas in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.  At MPI-MMG, Victoria Sakti has designed and is currently carrying out her post-doctoral research, entitled “Ageing in Displacement: East Timorese Diasporas in Indonesia”. This project explores the lived experiences of older people in the context of protracted displacement. It examines the forced migration, and subsequent relocation, of East Timorese former refugees in Indonesia and considers the challenges that they face from a life-course perspective. Globally, older people are among the most vulnerable groups of refugees and displaced persons. However, their needs and experiences specific to the conditions of growing old, such as the ageing body and declining mobility, among others, as well as the cultural expectations associated with ageing in a given context, are frequently overlooked.

At the heart of this study are older people’s narratives and memories of conflict and displacement. It explores the ways that they reconstruct life away from, and in conjunction with, their ancestral lands and people back home, as well as with family members of different ages. It asks what it means to grow old in this context, i.e., out of the preferred place and across transnational space. It also looks at the effect of time, and the gradual social and cultural changes that the elderly encounter in their new settings in the ways that they navigate later life decisions, including on matters of death and burial. The study examines the intersections of ageing and mobility in people’s movements across re-established national borders and the question of return.

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