Is Makassar a ‘Sanctuary City’? Migration Governance in Indonesia After the ‘Local Turn’


  • Antje Missbach Monash University
  • Yunizar Adiputera Universitas Gadjah Mada
  • Atin Prabandari Universitas Gadjah Mada



Indonesia, Migration Governance, Presidential Regulations, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Sanctuary Cities


Taking into consideration three levels of government (regional, national, and sub-national) that potentially offer protection to refugees, this paper is concerned with changes initiated by the 2016 Presidential Regulation on Handling Foreign Refugees. This regulation has delegated more responsibility for managing refugees to the sub-national levels of administration in Indonesia, which, like other nations in the Southeast Asia, has been reluctant to provide protection for refugees or any options for their integration into society. The reason for this is that, despite many vociferous demands in favor of a ‘regional solution’ in the aftermath of the 2015 Andaman Sea Crisis, most attempts ended up in abeyance. Following suit with the so-called ‘local turn’ in migration studies, which increased attention to the local dimensions of refugee protection due to the receding capacities in the major actors involved both in global refugee protection and international migration management, we direct attention to the sub-national level of refugee management in Indonesia using as a case study the city of Makassar, which has hitherto enjoyed a fairly positive reputation for welcoming refugees. By examining the current living conditions of asylum seekers and refugees in Makassar and comparing them to other places in Indonesia, we ask whether the concept of ‘sanctuary city’ is applicable to a non-Western context and, in doing so, hope to enhance current discussions of creating alternative models for refugee protection beyond the national and regional level.

Author Biographies

Antje Missbach, Monash University

Antje Missbach is a senior research lecturer in Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne and an associate at The Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at the Melbourne Law School. Her research interests include forced migration in the Asia-Pacific region, people smuggling, and the trafficking of persons as well as diaspora politics. 

Yunizar Adiputera, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Yunizar Adiputera is a lecturer in International Relations at Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta. His research interests include humanitarianism, diplomacy, refugee studies, arms control, and disarmament.

Atin Prabandari, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Atin Prabandari is a lecturer at the Department of International Relations at Universitas Gadjah Mada, in Yogyakarta, and a research fellow at the Center for Digital Society, the ASEAN Studies Center, and the Southeast Asia Social Studies Center, all at Universitas Gadjah Mada. Her re - search interests include humanitarianism in world politics, refugee and forced migration studies, and border politics.






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