By Evan Darwin Winet

Indonesian Postcolonial Theatre explores smooth theatrical practices in Indonesia from a functionality of Hamlet within the warehouses of Dutch Batavia to Ratna Sarumpaet's feminist Muslim Antigones. The ebook finds styles linking the colonial to the postcolonial eras that frequently clash with the historic narratives of Indonesian nationalism.

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Additional info for Indonesian Postcolonial Theatre: Spectral Genealogies and Absent Faces

Example text

Otherness is a ‘primitive’ concept. Modern European racism proceeds from a concern with deviance from ‘your average ordinary White Man’: From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the outside. There are only people who should be like us and whose crime it is not to be. The dividing line is not between inside and outside but rather is internal to simultaneous signifying chains and successive subjective choices. Racism never detects the particles of the other; it propagates waves of sameness until those who resist identification have been wiped out.

Though there were in fact numerous ‘founding’ tribes in the ancient Rhine delta region, the idea of Batavia had become a rallying point against Dutch vassalage. To a Dutch Union emerging from the shadow of European empires, the valor of the ancient Batavians (blessed by Roman imprimatur) inspirited a postcolonial nationalist pride. Another, unique concern was answered by summoning the ghosts of Batavia to haunt the Dutch castle at Jayakerta. It amalgamated a multi-ethnic polyglot community into a uniform historical nationality.

When the Asian monetary crisis struck in 1997, and more than half of all Indonesians fell below the government’s own official poverty lines, the economic rationale for authoritarianism collapsed. Protests escalated into confrontations with police and riots in the spring of 1998. In response to mounting pressures on the streets and within his own government, Suharto relinquished power to his vice-president, B. J. Habibie. It did not take long for the euphoria of ‘Era Reformasi’ to give way to a sense that the nation remained in a state of crisis beyond Soekarno’s promise of postcolonial dignity or Suharto’s promise of economic prosperity.

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