The Maritime Dimension of Transnational Organised Crime: Engaging Indonesian Law Enforcement Agencies and Coastal Communities in the Land-Sea Nexus

Collage one

P.I.: Math Noortmann
Co-I: Juliette Koning
PACCS research grant funded through a cross-council initiative. Ref: ES/P001289/1 on Gateway to Research

This project explores what happens at sea in transnational organised crime. Focussing on the Indonesian archipelago, it looks at how coastal communities and governmental law enforcement agencies perceive and understand maritime crime, and how the two groups might work together to prevent it.

The project is oriented around dialogue with key local groups but involved using collage-making in place of interviews, as a means to open up new and different conversations. In a culture where oral communication dominates, the approach aimed to push participants out of their comfort zone, and allow them to think and express themselves in new ways.

When you listen, it's a story. With a picture there are overlaps and structure. There's a clear difference."

Collage two

Participants were provided with the means to make their own collages and then invited to explain these to their group and the research team. Although they were initially nervous about the approach, it allowed them to articulate ideas that had not emerged previously, resulting in the creation of knowledge that was shared and co-owned by participants and the researchers.

Key findings emerging from the project suggest that:

  • transnational labour exploitation and human trafficking activities are taking place
  • communication, dialogue and cooperation between fishing communities and law enforcement agencies is limited
  • the lines between unlawful and criminal activities are blurred
  • there is willingness to address illegal activities at sea but a lack of resources and coordination among law enforcement agencies.

The research team have also observed a range of benefits to the collage-making approach:

  • dominant voices, created by the politics of discussion as well as institutional hierarchies, are minimised
  • the use of images triggers different and new responses in people, encouraging participants to think beyond the ideas that they might usually express
  • the nature of what is expressed is different, with participants tending to take more ownership of their ideas
  • participants benefit from the quality time that the sessions provide to reflect on their experiences.

Inspired by the success of their methodology, the team are now further exploring both their key findings and the implications of collage-making for their research.

The collages are interesting because of what they say but also how they say it - the visual or artistic dimension. Using creativity and creative approaches to explore the security sector is new and we think there is much more to explore here.

Visit the Oxford Brookes website to find out more about the Maritime Dimension of Transnational Organised Crime project.