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The series examines social struggles and their connection with the particularity of places in Southeast Asia. The declining potency of national states is shifting more scholarly attention to locally rooted contentions. Local politics are becoming a major focus of study in the region. From the slums to luxurious malls, from logging camps to coastal reefs, movements of identity and common interests are challenging the great homogeneities that once characterised our thinking about the nation-state. Whether they revolve around bureaucratic resources, housing, land, forests or water, they deploy cultural themes that mix memories of tradition with intimations of modernity. The series will embrace an ecumenicity of innovative approaches within the humanities, social and political sciences, while retaining a central role for 'power' and 'place'.
What holds Indonesia together? 'A strong leader' is the answer most often given. This book looks instead at a middle level of society. Middle classes in provincial towns around the vast archipelago mediate between the state and society and help to constitute state power. 'Middle Indonesia' is a social zone connecting extremes. The Making of Middle Indonesia examines the rise of an indigenous middle class in one provincial town far removed from the capital city. Spanning the late colonial to early New Order periods, it develops an unusual, associational notion of political power. 'Soft' modalities of power included non-elite provincial people in the emerging Indonesian state. At the same time, growing inequalities produced class tensions that exploded in violence in 1965-1966.
In: Asian Journal of Social Science

Historians accept the death of oral sources, but expect newspaper archives in state institutions to be available for ever. Yet the majority of Indonesian newspaper titles in the National Library are today endangered. These crumbling papers are often the only copy in the world. This article first reviews the role these archives have played in pathbreaking historical work, both Indonesian and foreign. Provincial newspapers record the chatter of a new, literate middle class that emerged in the middle of the tumultuous twentieth century. Indonesian historiography is transformed by the many surprises scholars experience when reading their lives there. When those sources turn to dust, historical research dies. This will affect not just specialized historians, but social scientists in many fields. The article then maps quantitatively the extent to which these papers are endangered. It finally urges the social science community as a whole to campaign to save them through comprehensive digitization.

In: Wacana

Review of: Pieter Drooglever, An act of free choice; Decolonisation and the right to self-determination in West Papua. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2009, xviii + 854 pp. ISBN 9781851687152. Price: GBP 125.00 (hardback). Esther Heidbüchel, The West Papua conflict in Indonesia; Actors, issues and approaches. Wettenberg: Johannes Herrmann, 2007, iii + 223 pp. ISBN 9783937983103. Price: EUR 20.00 (paperback). Muridan S. Widjojo, Adriana Elisabeth, Amiruddin, Cahyo Pamungkas, and Rosita Dewi, Papua road map; Negotiating the past, improving the present and securing the future. Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia, 2010, xxxiii + 211 pp. ISBN 9789794617403. Paperback.

A common assumption in Digital Humanities (dh) project design is that ‘data’ is simply there, ready to ‘drive’ the research. The funders of a dh project described in this paper adhered to this positivistic assumption in their founding White Paper. They saw disciplines as blinders, best left behind in order to better see ‘patterns’. However, positivism was not a real-world option for the social scientists, mathematicians, and information scientists engaged in this ‘blue sky’ project, which investigated digitized historical newspaper texts. Far from being a hindrance to their work, disciplinary traditions were central to any success they achieved. Instead of moving ‘beyond’ disciplines, they developed a pluralist, cross-disciplinary dialogue. Each participant contributed out of the epistemic convention that had proven fruitful in their discipline. The approach required an intellectual and emotional commitment to dialogue, and produced tantalizing rather than wholly satisfying results. But it holds promise of more.

In: Asiascape: Digital Asia