Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing

The notion of hero versus villain is understood differently across time, nations, and even within a single nation-state. Yet, it is still common in many of these instances that those who disagree on the issue can nonetheless exchange views and engage in some form of debate. This chapter examines a radically different case, where the understanding of heroes and villains in one discursive practice is incommensurate and inverted in another.

Heryanto, Ariel (2019) “Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing”, in B. Korte, S. Wendt and N. Falkenhayner (eds), Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Contemporary Culture, Routledge: New York, pp. 167-188.

keywords: Cold War, Communist, Discourse, Indonesia, Nazism, New Order

Popular Culture and Identity Politics

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This chapter contends that an in-depth investigation into identity politics in popular culture is a critical component to studying the social life of this world’s fourth most populated nation. It shows how elite national politics and everyday cultural practices and contestations are mutually constitutive in complex and indirect ways, with a focus on identity politics in contemporary Indonesia as manifest in popular cultures.

Heryanto, Ariel (2018) “Popular Culture and Identity Politics”, in R. Hefner (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia, London: Routledge, pp. 357-368.

keywords: gender, Islam, Javanese, Jokowi, media, nationalism, SBY

Ideological Baggage and Orientations of the Social Sciences in Indonesia

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Many -isms that at first appear to be radical, breakthrough forces, become inflexible and frozen as they grow in popularity and dominance. There are good and bad expressions and followers of every -ism. In polemics, there is always the temptation to highlight the opposition’s worst or weakest examples of theories, ideas and rationale, whilst emphasizing and using only the best among one’s own armory.

Heryanto, Ariel (2005) “Ideological Baggage and Orientations of the Social Sciences in Indonesia” in Social Science and Power in Indonesia, Vedi R. Hadiz and Daniel Dhakidae (eds), Jakarta and Singapore: Equinox, pp. 69-101.

keywords: culturalism, developmentalism, ideology, knowledge, liberalism, orientation, populism, structuralism

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A Postcolonial Amnesia


“For centuries, what is now known as Southeast Asia has been a hub of transcontinental flows of people, religions and sciences.  . . . Such connections were salient features of the activities and events in the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century, well preceding the birth of nations in this region. Significantly, these engagements involved multi-ethnic and multilingual people from all walks of life in urban settings, rather than an exclusive preoccupation with a tiny elite of European descent in the colonies.”

Heryanto, Ariel (2016) “A Postcolonial Amnesia”, in D. Black, O. Khoo and K. Iwabuchi (eds), Contemporary Culture and Media in Asia, London: Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 13-29.

keywords: colonial, Dutch East Indies, global, Indonesia, national, Southeast Asia, trans-Asia

Asia literacy: A deeply problematic metaphor

In many parts of Asia, smiling does not mean being happy, amused or friendly. Some Indonesians cannot utter a complete sentence without a burst of giggles, regardless of the topic. When I first lived abroad, I worked very hard to learn not to smile ‘too much’, so not to risk offending people.

Heryanto, Ariel (2015) “Asia literacy: A deeply problematic metaphor”, in C. Johnson, V. Mackie and T. Morris-Suzuki (eds), The Social Sciences in The Asian Century, Canberra: ANU Press, pp. 171-189.

keywords: digital technology, Euro-American centricism, literacy, new media, privacy, orality, smile

The Cinematic Contest of Popular Post-Islamism

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Heryanto, Ariel (2014) “The Cinematic Contest of Popular Post-Islamism”, in J. Schlehe and E. Sandkühler (eds), Religion, Tradition and the Popular; Transcultural Views from Asia and Europe, Bielefeld: transcript, pp.139-156.

keywords: Ayat-ayat Cinta, Islamisation, New Order, post-Islamism, youth

Popular Culture for a New Southeast Asian Studies?

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Heryanto, Ariel (2013) “Popular Culture for a New Southeast Asian Studies?”, in Park S.W and V. King (eds), The Historical Construction of Southeast Asian Studies; Korea and Beyond, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 226-262.

keywords: Asianization, area studies, intra-Asia, Korean Wave, Meteor Garden, new media, popular culture, Southeast Asian Studies

Upgraded Piety and Pleasure: The New Middle Class and Islam in Indonesian Popular Culture

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“The sustained growth of the Indonesian new rich in the past three decades has included a substantial number of pious Muslims. Despite the latter’s ascendancy in the political and economic spheres, only recently have they begun to have both the urge and the power to thread their way into the cultural sphere, where Western and predominantly American pop culture have held sway for nearly a century.”

Heryanto, Ariel (2011) “Upgraded Piety and Pleasure: The New Middle Class and Islam in Indonesian Popular Culture”, in A. N. Weintraub (ed.), Islam and Popular Culture in Indonesia and Malaysia, London: Routledge, pp. 60-82.

keywords: Ayat-ayat Cinta, commercialization, commodification, piety, polygamy, religion, veil, youth

The Look of Love: New Engagements with the Oriental in Indonesian Popular Culture


Heryanto, Ariel (2010) “The Look of Love: New Engagements with the Oriental in Indonesian Popular Culture”, in D. Shim, A. Heryanto, and U. Siriyuvasak (eds), Pop Culture Formations Across East Asia, Seoul: Jimoondang, pp. 209-231.

keywords: Asianization, Chineseness, inter-Asia, K-Wave, middle class, oriental, racism, religion, women