Danau Tanu

Hey there! My name is Danau (which means ‘lake’ in Indonesian, in case you’re wondering) and I’m an anthropologist. I’ve never called myself an ‘expat’, or an ‘expat kid’ for that matter, but I do identify as an adult ‘Third Culture Kid (TCK)’ and I think of my parents as ‘serial migrants’. My father is Indonesian (with Chinese ancestry) and my mother is Japanese. I was born in Canada and grew up mostly in Indonesia while attending an international school, though I also moved around as a kid.

When I was thirty-something, I decided to go back to high school for a year to do my doctoral research on teenaged ‘Third Culture Kids (TCKs)’ by immersing myself in their lives in the manner of classical anthropologists, so to speak. My research was later published as a book: Growing Up in Transit: The Politics of Belonging at an International School. In it, I reveal the youths’ struggle—in their own words—with identity, belonging and internalized racism as I take the reader through the workings of popularity, friendships and romance on an international school campus in Indonesia. (Check out the teaser or download the introduction. I’ve also contributed to Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids.)

At the moment, I am an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia, researching mixed-race TCKs and other issues about mobility, identity and language. As a side project, I joined Isabelle Min and others who I met at the Families in Global Transition conference in 2019 to run the online forum, ‘TCKs of Asia’. Our passion is to highlight the diversity of TCK experiences that have yet to be uncovered.

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter. I also help curate the Facebook page for Writing Out of Limbo with one of the co-editors, Nina Sichel.