Dr Jennifer Alexander

BA Hons, PhD University of Sydney
Associate Professor (Honorary) College of Asia and the Pacific
T: 0416855048

Areas of expertise

  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104

Research interests

Social and religious change, development-induced displacement and resettlement, economic development and comparative trading practices in Borneo and Indonesia, politics of contemporary indigeneity, indigenous people, entrepreneurship, trade and gender.



I graduated from the University of Sydney in 1985 with a dissertation on rural markets in Java. This was published by Oxford University Press in Association with the ASAA Southeast Asia Publication Series in 1987 as Trade, Traders and Trading in Rural Java. Subsequently I transferred to Macquarie University as a Queen Elizabeth II National Research Fellow carrying out research in Sarawak, East Malaysia. I then moved to the ANU as a Research Fellow under the Comparative Austronesian Project continuing to concentrate on my Malaysian research. The University of Sydney hosted an ARC Fellowship conducting research in Jepara, Indonesia on the production of furniture for local and international markets.  I became an Independent scholar in November 1997. I returned to the ANU as a Visiting Fellow in 2007 and in 2015 was promoted to the position of Honorary Associate Professor. I have lived and worked various parts of South and Southeast Asia. I shared two years research in Sri Lanka with my late husband, Paul. We then continued our research in Kebumen, Central Java and subsequently in Belaga District, Sarawak. This research is still ongoing. In the 1990s we conducted research in Jepara, Indonesia. This research continued until the fall of Suharto in 1998 when we returned to Sarawak. 

Career highlights include a Fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Wassenaar (1989-1990), Research Fellow Anthropology RSPAS ANU (1989-1991), ARC Research Fellow , Anthropology University of Sydney (1991-1997), a Visiting Professorship at FSP Entwicklungssoziologie, University of Bielefeld, Germany (1993-1994), and a Visiting/Guest Fellowship with the Program of Agrarian Studies, Yale University (1995-1996) Visiting Fellow/Research Associate/Hon Associate Professor Anthropology, CHL (2007-2020).

Researcher's projects

(1) Displacement and Resettlement in Sarawak, East Malaysia

(2) Trade and emerging markets in the context of resettlement 

(3) Ethnicity and indigeneity in Sarawak.

(4) Urban diaspora in Bintulu, Miri, Kuching and peninsula Malaysia.

(5) Religious change in Sarawak (1987-2017) and Central Java (1990-1997)


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Updated:  08 August 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers