Development discourses often assume linear rural transitions, in which
educated young people are supposed to leave their rural communities, becoming
urban. However, drawing on fieldwork in Flores (East Indonesia), I argue that
tertiary educated young people do return to their natal communities upon graduation.
There, they want to act—by virtue of their education—as vanguards of
positive change and alter what they consider backward, rural livelihoods and practices.
Yet, educated young people often depend on these livelihoods and practices,
too, especially when they cannot obtain work, which is common in rural Flores.
To better understand the tensions inherent to these young people’s position within
their rural communities, I map the reasons for their returns to rural Flores.