Jessica Peng

Doctoral Candidate


Jessica is a joint-degree Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and the Graduate School of Education. Jessica has broad research interests in the social production of difference, processes of social and geographical mobilities, and the everyday workings of policy and development. Her current research examines Indonesia’s efforts to become a top global economy, key to which is a focus on developing “skilled” youth labor forces across some of the most marginalized areas of the country. The multi-year and multi-sited ethnography analyzes how the vocational training of young people have come to be positioned as an “infrastructural” prerequisite for national development and, more specifically, how efforts of national policymaking, public-private partnerships, and vocational schooling interlink to orient youth to pursue particular kinds of futures in the areas of labor and migration. This work builds on Jessica’s decade-long experience as a practitioner researcher and educator in Indonesia.


M.S.Ed. in Education, Culture, and Society, University of Pennsylvania, 2014
B.A. in International Studies, Vassar College, 2011

Research Interests

Political economy; critical development studies; semiotics; rural labor, migration, and citizenship; education and youth; Indonesia

Selected Publications

2021. “The Potentials of Fieldwork in a Pandemic: Navigating Shifting Landscapes of the Indonesian Fishery Industry.” SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Volume 36, Number 1, pp. 362-375.

Graduation Year



Dissertation Title

Archipelagic "Potentials": Infrastructures, Education, and Labor in Indonesia

Graduate Status