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Dutch Sinologists, Chinese Annals, and Other Stories

Two Ground-Breaking Contributions to Chinese-Indonesian Historiography

Tom Hoogervorst

Enduring Connections?

Soft Power and Pedagogy in Short-Term Study Tours to Indonesia

Agnieszka Sobocinska and Jemma Purdey


Since 2013, the Australian government has funded Australian students to undertake short periods of study abroad with an emphasis on Asia, including Indonesia. Universities, too, have been enhancing their study-abroad options as part of broader internationalization campaigns. In a short time, the number of Australian higher-education students undertaking study abroad as part of their undergraduate degrees has doubled, to one in five students. This significant investment follows from two beliefs: that Australia’s relations with Asia are significantly impacted by people-to people relations; and that formal, experiential learning is a particularly effective pedagogical method. But is this investment warranted? Do periods of short-term study in Indonesia enrich students’ understanding of the region, and of Australia’s relations with Asia? And do current undergraduates, who have unprecedented access to mobility through travel and tourism, gain anything from a formal and guided people-to-people experience? This article explores these questions through an in-depth investigation of the intensive-mode undergraduate unit ‘Australia and Asia’ run by the Faculty of Arts at Monash University from 2014 to 2017. It suggests that, for many students, study tours facilitate a short-term period of emotional involvement and self-reflection, rather than forging enduring connections.

Jiří Jákl


This article offers a detailed analysis of the category of men known as taṇḍa. Widely attested in literary records and known from Old Javanese inscriptions, the function and social status of taṇḍa has been a controversial issue. Two views pertaining to the identity of these men have been advanced so far. According to most scholars, taṇḍa were high-status officials, often interpreted as military ‘officers’. According to an alternative view, they were low-status military figures and their function was to oversee markets, or they were low-status figures associated with music and performances. This article argues that until at least 1200 CE taṇḍa were court-based, active combatants, who had troops of their own followers at their disposal and were responsible for the military expansion of Javanese states. By the Majapahit period they were integrated as regular troops into the progressively more hierarchical system of the professional standing army, which resulted in their reduced social status.

Found in Translation

Eka Kurniawan and the Politics of Genre

Meghan Downes


Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan achieved huge critical success globally during 2015–2016 with his translated novels Beauty is a wound and Man tiger, which have been praised for their sweeping historical scope, ‘magical realist’ elements, and experimentation with voice and genre. First published in the Indonesian language more than a decade earlier as Cantik itu luka and Lelaki harimau, these novels initially faced a relatively lukewarm reception locally. Only once Eka Kurniawan’s work had been ‘found in translation’ was he taken more seriously in Indonesian media coverage. This article charts Eka Kurniawan’s rise to literary fame, paying particular attention to the shifting tone and content of reviews, marketing, cover art, and media representations, as the translated novels circulated globally. I use this case to examine two key issues: firstly, the ways in which certain genres such as horror and crime are ‘othered’ in the Indonesian literary landscape; and secondly, how processes of translation, distribution, and reception outside Indonesia can significantly impact local interpretations of an author and their work. In doing so, this article demonstrates that the politics of genre and the power relations of international publishing both contribute to complex patterns of inclusion and exclusion from ‘local’ and ‘global’ literary canons.

Indonesia and its Others

Inclusion, Exclusion and Inter-cultural Engagements

Meghan Downes

Neneng Yanti Khozanatu Lahpan


Through an analysis of local Sundanese music in distinct settings in village and urban contexts, this article observes and analyses different constructions of meaning around Sundanese Islamic music, as well as the role played by cultural activists and village audiences in those constructions. Based on fieldwork in Tasikmalaya, West Java, I explore the novel meanings given to village genres in urban contexts, and contrast that with the affective responses of village audiences. I find that musical meanings offer different processes of identity formation within particular social boundaries. Emergent Indonesian political developments shape these processes.