Campus Directory: Jan Newberry

University of Lethbridge

Jan Newberry
Anthropology Department
Office: A866 (University Hall)
Phone: (403) 329-5121
Fax: (403) 329-5109


Indonesia, political and economic anthropology, child studies, urban studies, gender and development

Research Areas

Political anthropology, state and community, child studies, democratization and early childhood education, the informal sector and domestic labour, gender and development, urban studies, cultural meanings of landscape and built form, mapping as cultural practise, central Java, Indonesia

About Me

Jan Newberry a professor of Anthropology is an anthropologist whose work first centered on Java, Indonesia. Her 2006 book Back Door Java: State Formation and the Domestic in Working Class Java considered the role of urban women's labour in mediating the relationship between state and community. She has been a fellow at the Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore and at KITLV, the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. She has published on social reproduction and labour in relation to changes in international political economy, with attention to the informal sector, political change, families, households, and urban space. Her more recent research has concerned early childhood education, care and development programs that emerged in Indonesia in response to World Bank and other intergovernmental initiatives. Her work has appeared in Economy & Society, the Journal of Asian Studies, Indonesia, Ethics and Social Welfare, and Policy Futures in Education among other peer-reviewed journals. Her current research concerns collaborative methods, including the Raising Spirit Project conducted with Opokaa'sin Early Intervention Society and funded by PolicyWise for Children and Families and the SSHRC-funded Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network. She is one of the founders of the University of Lethbridge's transdisciplinary Institute for Child and Youth Studies and continues her work with the institute as Past Director. She has been a Board of Governors Teaching Chair and her teaching has been recognized with a Distinguished Teaching Award and the American Anthropological Association/Oxford University Press Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.


Chair, Anthropology Department, University of Lethbridge, 2021-

Member, Liberal Education Revitalization Team working on university-wide initiative, Office of the Vice-President Academic, 2014-7

Member, First Year, Liberal Education "Global Citizenship" cohort-model development team, Office of Dean of Arts and Science, 2014-15

Chair, Anthropology Department, University of Lethbridge, 2011-4

Co-Director (and co-founder), Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS), University of Lethbridge, 2010-2015

Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Lethbridge, 2015

American Anthropological Association/Oxford University Press Award for Excellence in
Undergraduate Teaching, 2014

Board of Governors Teaching Chair, University of Lethbridge, 2011-2013

Research Fellow, In Search of Middle Indonesia Project, KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden, Netherlands, May-July 2009

Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Sept. 2007-April 2008

1997 Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology, University of Arizona; dissertation entitled Making Do in the Imagined Community: Domesticity and State Formation in Working Class Java

1988 M.A. in International Studies, University of Wyoming

1979 B.A. in Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia

Selected Publications

2021 Neuroscience and the Construction of a New Child in Early Childhood Education: A Neoliberal Legacy. Co-written with Vina Adriany, Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. Current Sociology 1-18.

2020 Reconciling Accounts: Refusing Expertise in a Transmedia Project with Indigenous Young People in Canada. Co-written with Amy Mack. Collaborative Anthropologies 13(1): 77-108. DOI: 10.1353/cla.2020.0001

2020 How Fieldwork in a TBL Classroom Shaped Landscapes of Social Learning. Co-written with Makita Mikuliak. Learning Communities Journal 20: 65-80.

2020 Women and Children First: Species-being and the Temporality of Socially Necessary Labour. Co-written with Rachel Rosen. Forum for Focaal -- Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. 86: 112-120.

2019 Braiding Sweetgrass Families: A Transmedia Project on Parenting in Blackfoot Territory. Co-written with Tanya Pace-Crosschild. Photo-essay for special issue of Open Space for Childhood, Parenting Culture, and Adult Child Relations in Transnational Perspectives, special issue of Families, Relationships and Societies special issue, edited by Charlotte Faircloth and Rachel Rosen 9 (1): 173-180.

2018 A Kampung Corner: infrastructure, affect, informality. For special issue Cultures and Politics of Indonesian Infrastructures, edited by Joshua Barker and Sheri Gibbings. Indonesia 105: 191-206.

2018 Love, Labour and Appropriation: Reconceptualising Social Reproduction with Women AND Children in the Frame, co-written with Rachel Rosen. In Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or Foes? Rachel Rosen and Katherine Twambley, editors. London: UCL Press.

2018 Translating Encounters and Challenging Settler Colonialism: How a Transmedia Project Connects Indigenous Young People with Higher Education. Co-written with Kristine Alexander, Hudson Eagle Bear, Tesla Heavy Runner, Ashley Henrickson, Taylor Little Mustache, Tanya Pace-Crosschild, Kaitlynn Weaver, and Erin Spring. For The Journal of Community Engagement and Higher Education 10(1): 61-71.

2018 Payment in Heaven: Can Early Childhood Education Policies Help Women Too? Co-written with Sri Marpinjun. Journal of Policy Futures in Education 16(1): 29-42.

2017 Interiority and the Government of the Child. Focaal -- Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 77: 76-89.

2017 "Anything can be used to stimulate child development": Early Childhood Education in Indonesia as Durable Assemblage. Journal of Asian Studies (76)1: 25-45.

2014 Women and Children First: Networked Care and the Re-emergence of the Domestic Community. TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, Volume 2/2: 271-291.

2014 Class Mobil: Circulation of Children in the Making of Middle Indonesia. In Search of Middle Indonesia, edited by Gerry Van Klinken and Ward Berenschot.Leiden: Brill.

2013 Back Door Java: Negara, Rumah Tangga dan Kampung di Keluarga Jawa. Translated by Bernadetta Esti Sumarah. Jakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia and KITLV-Jakarta.

2012 Empowering Children or Disempowering Women? Early Childhood Care and Development in Indonesia. Ethics and Social Welfare 6 (3):247-259.

2010 The Global Child and Non-governmental Governance of the Family in Post-Suharto Indonesia. Economy and Society 39(3): 403-426.

2008 Double Spaced: Abstract Labour in Urban Kampung. Anthropologica 50(2):241-254. Special issue on urban anthropology.

2007 Rituals of Rule in the Administered Community: The Javanese Slametan Reconsidered. Modern Asian Studies 11(6):1295-1330.

2006 Backdoor Java: State Formation and the Domestic in Working Class Java. Peterborough, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.

Research Interests


The state and governance: theories of the state, state formation as cultural process,

Social reproduction theory: feministpolitical economy and domestic labour

Child and youth studies: global early childhood education, care, and development

Urban studies: community, space and place, infrastructure

Ethnography: experimental, collaborative and multimodal ethnographic methods


Indonesia: fieldwork in central Java, Indonesia since 1992

Curriculum Vitae


Edit this Content