In the Margins of a Borderland: A Florenese Community in Sabah

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo


This chapter is a story of Florenese that form a migrant community in the borderland of Sabah in East Malaysia. The Florenese from East Flores, in small number, began to settle in Sabah in the late 1950s. The Florenese migrate to find better economic opportunities as their land was not particularly good for cultivation; besides wondering out became common as ships are available, especially to Kalimantan where they then crossed the border to Sabah, Malaysia. The Florenese migrants settled with their families, most of them working as plantation labourers. During the confrontation with Malaysia in the early 1960s, many Florenese men were recruited as militia to back up Indonesian troops. As Catholics the Florenese were welcomed by the Catholic churches in Sabah and were provided social and economic assistance. The Florenese migration to Sabah is an example of cross-border movement that occurred outside the official channel. Many of the Florenese in Sabah are stateless, and being Catholics they are discriminated by the Muslim majority. As contacts with their fellow Florenese at home are maintained, the Florenese in Sabah can also be described as a transnational community.


Florenese Migration Borderland Catholics Transnational community 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Society and CultureIndonesian Institute of SciencesJakartaIndonesia

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