Resistance rooted in Migration

Katherine Antarikso

Katherine Sarwopeni Antarikso (she/her) is an architect, artist, and activist. She was born in Jakarta, on the island of Java, Indonesia, and moved to the United States at the age of 10. Her unique upbringing is a driver of her many talents and expressions. As an architect, she is interested in issues of equity regarding the design of urban spaces. As a creative, she performs traditional Indonesian dance and writes poetry and essays centered on home, migration, and displacement themes. She is an activist for immigrants’ rights and is a founding member of Pejuang: Indonesian Social Justice Coalition.

I just had this desire to think about, 'what are we as an Indonesian community leaving behind for generations in the future when they come to Philadelphia?' [...] I really do believe that there's some truth to 'The American Dream.' What's not talked about is all the stuff that comes with The American Dream, that that dream has a lot of caveats, that it's tied to land theft, that it's tied to colonialism, that it's tied to racism. That's the part that immigrants don't understand, that we're not told about when we come here. _ Katherine Sarwopeni Antarikso

q & A with katherine

Mask group (16)

How has archival research informed your activism?

This is hard to answer. I had hoped to find some practical tactics and strategies that I can take back to my community on how to resist when you have no citizenship or legal status. I wanted to learn how previous groups have fought to gain citizenship status, from Native Americans, African-Americans, to Asian-Americans — but as I also was researching Indonesian immigration the lack of items related to Indonesia in the archives became my focus. It was almost like we don’t exist. Perhaps someone else had already done research on citizenship, so I started to feel like telling Indonesian stories would be more impactful for my community. I decided the best way to tell our stories is through our own words and I was inspired to start the oral history project for Indonesians in the diaspora.

What do you want other activists and organizers to know about preserving their stories and archival research?

Start by telling your stories, collecting artwork from the community, and figure out a way to make these moments of history accessible to your community. Reach out across multiple platforms, personal and virtual.

How have you changed since you began this project?

I feel like the work is just beginning and I wish I had more time to continue my work on this project and follow all of its spidering paths.

Interested in more stories about migration, or about anti-colonial, anti-imperialist movements? Check out the work below:

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