YAMADA, Chika | Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University


Research Departments・Position
Environmental Coexistence
Assistant Professor
Public Health, Area Studies
Research Interests / Keywords
drug use, harm reduction, social activism, HIV/AIDS, post-colonialism, history of public health


Exploring Indonesian society through the lens of the Harm Reduction movement

While narrowly defined as efforts to prevent harm from drug use without necessarily reducing use itself, the concept of Harm Reduction has developed beyond this to encompass activities and policies aimed at protecting the rights and dignity of people who use drugs. Initiated in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, the Harm Reduction movement gained momentum in Indonesia during the late 1990s. By the early 2000s, it was integrated into a Ministry of Health program, which introduced services like opioid substitution therapy and needle exchange programs at community health centers. Civil society has played a pivotal role in catalyzing this shift in policy and remains a steadfast supporter of grassroots initiatives.

Civil society's contributions extend beyond collaboration with and oversight of government programs; they actively engage in outreach for infectious disease testing and counseling, distribute condoms, disseminate information on safer drug practices, facilitate the provision of healthcare services in prisons, and offer legal support against human rights infringements. In a country where drug possession is criminalized and drug trafficking can result in capital punishment, the evolution and current state of the Harm Reduction movement raise compelling questions: Who are the individuals and activists steering this movement, and what experiences have shaped their perspectives? How does the interplay between civil society, government entities, international organizations, and other stakeholders unfold? Where do the paths of conservatism and harm reduction converge, and how has the movement adapted to the evolving socio-political landscape?

This study aims to delve into the lives and ideologies of those labeled as 'deviant,' viewing the constructs of the state, power dynamics, healthcare, and public health through their lens. By examining their efforts to critically assess their circumstances and subjectify themselves, the research seeks to enhance our comprehension of Indonesia and the broader Southeast Asian context. Through this exploration, the study aims to uncover the many ways in which individuals and collectives navigate and negotiate their existence within the fabric of society, challenging and redefining notions of deviance and conformity.


Chika Yamada joined the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2020 and became an assistant professor at the Center in 2022. She is a visiting researcher at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry. She studied nursing at Kyoto University, public health at the University of Tokyo, and Chinese at Sichuan University. Before receiving her Ph.D. in Health Science from Kobe University in 2019, she worked in community health centers as well as NGOs.

Currently, she is studying Indonesian activism by people who use drugs from the late 1990s onwards, critically examining the dynamics between bottom-up grassroots movements and top-down public health policies. She is also working on the development and evaluation of psychotherapy for substance use disorders, which fosters collaboration between peers and healthcare providers. Additionally, she is developing wastewater epidemiology for psychoactive substances in Indonesia. In collaboration with Daikin Industries, she is researching the social history of air conditioning in Southeast Asia and the adaptation of urban settlements in the face of climate change.

Her scholarly contributions cover a broad spectrum of both qualitative and quantitative research across East and Southeast Asia. Her previous work includes an investigation into how environmental factors affect lifestyle-related diseases within various Japanese districts. She has also conducted an analysis of the portrayal of mental health issues in the media following the Wenchuan earthquake in China. Furthermore, she has examined the lived experiences of discrimination faced by individuals with mental health conditions in Metro Manila and has led epidemiological studies to assess the psychological impact of the War on Drugs in the Philippines. Additionally, her work in Japan has involved a qualitative exploration of the experiences of individuals with addiction and their families, particularly focusing on their storytelling towards society. Through these investigations, she aims to shed light on the complex interplay between individual experiences concerning health and broader societal structures.