This volume of essays is intended to honour an exceptional, indeed a unique scholar. Joan Hardjono grew up in Sydney and graduated from Sydney University in the mid-1950s. She majored in English and Geography and like most girls in those years who had managed to complete a tertiary degree, she probably expected to embark on a career as a high school teacher in Australia. But no doubt prompted by the spirit of adventure which she has kept throughout her long career, she decided to go to Indonesia as a volunteer teacher. The scheme which brought young Australian graduates to Indonesia at that time was pioneering; it pre-dated the US Peace Corps and several of the participants went on to distinguished academic careers. On the boat from Australia to Indonesia, she met a young Indonesian called Hardjono, who after participating in the struggle against the Dutch in the late 1940s, gained an engineering degree at the Institute of Technology in Bandung, then as now Indonesia’s leading tertiary institute for the study of engineering and technology. Joan was posted to teach in Semarang, the capital of the province of Central Java, and family legend has it that Hardjono used a borrowed motor cycle to pay her frequent visits, bringing with him Javanese delicacies as gifts.
Since the late 1980s, Joan has been busy as a consultant to a number of bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. She has retired as a university teacher, but served for several years as an active member of the advisory board of a Bandung-based research organization, AKATIGA. She has also served since its inception in early 2001 on both the Board of Trustees and the Advisory Board of the Jakarta-based research group, The SMERU Research Institute. The editors are pleased that four chapters in this volume have been contributed by staff of these two institutions. Joan continues to be an active member of the SMERU boards, and in her advisory role, she has always stressed that SMERU should focus on what it does best, namely conducting solid research on the problems of poverty, social protection and unemployment, rather than engaging in policy advocacy. She worked very hard editing the institute’s first international publication, Poverty and Social Protection in Indonesia, which was published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore in 2011. Joan has often regretted the fact that so few Indonesian social scientists publish internationally, and has assisted a number of scholars over the years to turn their research findings into publishable papers in English-language outlets.
Like many Indonesians in her age group, Joan has at times been disappointed that the country’s macroeconomic progress over the last four decades has not yet achieved the elusive goal of a just and prosperous society. To friends, she can be at times very critical of the performance of politicians and senior bureaucrats, both during the Suharto era and subsequently. But she would be the last to deny that some progress has been made. She continues to visit Australia on a regular basis, but Bandung remains her home, and she remains steadfast in her love for, and commitment to, the people of Indonesia.