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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.

Matthew Isaac Cohen


Sukarno took a personal interest in using the arts for presenting Indonesia in a positive light. He oversaw cultural missions abroad and produced ‘cultural events’ that showed off his grace and charisma on the dance floor to overseas guests. While Soeharto showed little interest in the arts, new modes of arts diplomacy flourished during the New Order—scholarships for foreigners to study arts, artists in residence at Indonesian embassies, large-scale festivals aiming to facilitate artistic exchange and encourage foreign investments, to name but a few. In Indonesia today, arts diplomacy is represented by its own sub-directorate in the Ministry of Education and Culture. Indonesia is promoting itself through collaborations between Indonesian governmental agencies and professional, international producing bodies, galleries, and festivals. Cultural Houses are being built in key cities abroad, along with a nationwide platform for international festivals, Indonesiana. ‘Indonesianists’, including foreign academics and students of the arts, are being recruited to promote Indonesia abroad.