Performing the Nation

Cultural Politics in New Order Indonesia

by Jorgen Hellman

  • Published: 2003
  • Pages: 210 pp.
  • illustrations & maps
  • Series: NIAS Monographs
  • Series number: 89
Available from NIAS Press worldwide
ISBN Hardback: 978 87 91114 09 0, £40.00 (June 2003)

• In-depth study demonstrating that Suharto’s regime created order throughout Indonesia not only by coercive means but also by its cultural policies.
• Gets into the nitty-gritty of cultural politics in Indonesia and the nexus between tradition and cultural revivalism.
• Offers valuable insights into the underlying dynamics of the country’s current condition.
• Will be of interest especially to researchers and students of Indonesian nation-building and cultural politics but also to historians of recent events in Indonesia.

In sharp contrast to today’s disorder was the apparent cohesion and stability of Indonesia during much of the New Order period (1965–98). While Suharto’s authoritarian rule was significant, the regime’s cultural policies also played their part. Ethnic, religious and regional sentiments were to be channelled into the field of art rather than being expressed in terms of class, religion or separatism. At the same time, culture was used to help develop a national Indonesian identity.

This theme is explored by this study, which focuses on the efforts of a group of young art students based at the Bandung Academy of Performing Arts to revitalize traditional Longser theatre. The interaction between the artists and regime and their often-differing ideas about identity, the role of art and cultural traditions in Indonesia offers valuable insights into the underlying dynamics of the country’s current condition.

by Matthew Isaac Cohen, University of Glasgow
From journal:
Aseasuk News no.35

There is much in Hellman’s book to recommend it to readers interested in Southeast Asian performance, education and cultural policy.

There is much in Hellman’s book to recommend it to readers interested in Southeast Asian performance, education and cultural policy.

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