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When is Indonesia?

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AbstractThis paper argues that existing approaches to Indonesian media hypostatise what may be more imaginatively understood as a rapidly changing assemblage of arguments and practices. A series of intellectual manoeuvres creates the appearance of a relatively stable, knowable and measurable system. These include confusion over the precise object of study, omission of anything that does not fit the theory and rigid techniques of closure that prevent these weaknesses being evident. Critiques of Eurocentrism raise broader questions of processes of power/knowledge by which the discourse of Indonesians is culturally translated into the hegemonic language of an élite of experts, producers and politicians. The paper proposes instead to approach Indonesian media as assemblages of practices of production, distribution, engagement and use by different people in different situations. Such practices constitute performances, which may be differently articulated by different participants on different occasions. The paper concludes by rethinking key genres of Indonesian television broadcasting as performances. Indonesia emerges less as a stable, coherent entity than as the shifting object of antagonistic representations.

Affiliations: 1: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London


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