Review of Popular Culture in Indonesia

Review of Popular Culture in Indonesia: Fluid Identities in Post-Authoritarian Politics, (editor), London & New York: Routledge, 2008.

  • 2012_Vol14-No2_WACANA-c
    “In the two chapters that Heryanto wrote and seven others that he edited, the book captures a crucial time in the country’s history as the Indonesian people received the utmost freedom to determine who they are. The book highlights not just how identity is indeed fluid (determined through various unfixed references, bent, and mould according to people’s wish), but most importantly, it confirms the play of identity politics in which various identities are contested and ideologies continuously compete with one another.”

    Review of the Indonesian version by Asri Saraswati, Wacana, 14 (2/October), 2012: 478-481.

  • 2011_Vol12-No5_TAPJA-c
    “A very welcome contribution to the study of Indonesian popular culture.”

    Review by Ana Dragojlovic, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 12(5), 2011: 501-502.

  • 2010_Vol34-No4_ASIAN STUDIES REVIEW-c
    “This collection of essays, ably edited by Ariel Heryanto.”

    Review by Margaret Kartomi, Asian Studies Review, 34(4), 2010: 522-523.

    “This book has productively raised the horizon of postauthoritarian Indonesian popular culture. Heryanto’s solid arguments, along with the other authors’ colourful studies are the warp and weft in the tapestry of emergent social relations in present-day Indonesia. This book should be worthwhile for any reader wishing to locate the meaning of popular culture in the wider socio-political framework of Indonesia and beyond.”

    Review by Shiho Sawai, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 41, 2010: 560-562.

  • 2009_Vol82-No2_PACIFIC AFFAIRS-c
    “This collection offers a wealth of fresh thinking and perceptive studies of new developments in Indonesia’s rich and thriving popular culture. Scholars and students interested in cultural studies, or in the intersection of politics and culture, will want to read this book carefully.”

    Review by Michael Bodden, Pacific Affairs, 82 (2/Summer) 2009: 364-365.

  • 2008_12_10_TJP Placing popular culture in serious contexts-c
    “Popular Culture in Indonesia; Fluid identities in post-authoritarian politics, edited by Ariel Heryanto, has an unusual appeal to it. The book promises a world where pop culture and politics not only intersect, but influence and leave marks on one another.”

    Review by Dewi Anggraeni, The Jakarta Post, 12/10/2008.




Review of Identity and Pleasure

Review of Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture, Singapore and Kyoto: NUS Press and Kyoto CSEAS Series on Asian Studies, 2014.

  • 2017_12_II Identity and pleasure, on screen-c
    “Heryanto successfully demonstrates that screen culture is a site where post-New Order Indonesians question what various identities mean to them and share, consume and interrogate their moral and political convictions, all while enjoying their leisure time.”
    Review by Fadjar I Thufail (LIPI), Inside Indonesia, 130: Oct-Dec 2017,
  • 2016_75-4_JAS-c
    Identity and Pleasure is ambitious and wide-ranging. In analyzing multiple and varied contemporary Indonesian pop cultural forms against the backdrop of recent political and religious developments, this book constitutes an important resource, not just for specialists of Asian popular cultures, but for scholars of Indonesia and of Southeast Asia in general.
    It also offers intriguing and important comparisons with Muslim Middle Eastern countries, which are engaged in their own struggles over the proper place of popular culture and media in an age of political and religious contestation.”
    Review by NANCY J. SMITH-HEFNER (Boston University) Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 75 – Issue 4 – November 2016: pp. 1162-1164.
  • 2016_V5-N1_SEAS-c
    Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture is a brilliant study of the diverse and seemingly contradictory forces at play in the world’s fourth largest nation state. . . . Perhaps the most striking feature of Identity and Pleasure is Heryanto’s ability to find meaning in seemingly trivial and mundane aspects of popular culture.” Michael G. Vann, Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, April 2016, pp. 160-163.
  • “This book makes an important contribution and is likely to become required reading in undergraduate courses and graduate seminars in Indonesian studies, Asian studies, media studies and cultural theory”.Review by James B. Hoesterey, Sojourn, 31 (1/March) 2016: 327-331,
  • 2016_89-1_PA Review IaP-c
    “In this fascinating study, . . . Heryanto’s arguments are theoretically careful, nuanced, and innovative, always seeking more detailed understandings and explanations for the popularity (or lack of it) of his subjects; Islamic lifestyles and films, films about the tragic events of 1965–66, K-pop, and increasingly entertainment oriented political campaigns.”
    Review by Michael Bodden, Pacific Affairs, 89 (1/March) 2016: 228-230.
  • 2016_26-2_Asian Journal of Communnication-c
    “Written from a cultural studies perspective, Identity and pleasure’s diversity of cases will be of interest not only to scholars of media and critical studies, but to those interested in cultural politics and South East Asian studies in general. The book fills in a gap in the study of popular culture, which is too often forgotten in academic examinations of contemporary media usage and consumption, particularly in regards to how it relates to cultural politics and identity formation.”
    Review by Dani Madrid-Morales, Asian Journal of Communication, 26(2), 2016: 197-199.
  • 2016_73_NL-IIAS _How popular culture defines identity-c“In this book he looks into the role of media and screen culture (film, digital appliances …) in the life of young, urban-based Indonesians living in the first decade of the 21st century and how the use of these media has helped them to redefine their identity.””How popular culture defines identity”,
    a review by Patrick Vanden Berghe, IIAS The Newsletter, 73 (Spring) 2016: 23,
  • 2016_Vol47-No1_JSEAS -c
    “The author’s analysis of Indonesian films and audience reactions to them, is very compelling. This new study adds significantly to an important topic which has not received much scholarly attention. In addition, Heryanto’s book will serve as a broad introduction to Indonesian popular culture and politics which would make it suitable for undergraduate courses.”
    Review by Kania A. Sukotjo, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 47 (1/February), 2016: 148–149.
  • 2016_01_29_TJG Fascinating Journey Into Subterranean Halls of Indonesian Popular Culture-c
    “Ariel’s Identity and Pleasure is a fascinating journey into the subterranean halls of the often-overlooked Indonesian popular culture. In many ways, it is delightful in many of its unexpected twists and turns. The author keeps us going at a nimble pace while leaving us to wonder what to find around every corner: be it new insights or perspectives.””
    Fascinating Journey Into Subterranean Halls of Indonesian Popular Culture”, by Johannes Nugroho, The Jakarta Globe, 29/01/2016.
  • 2015_171_BIJDRAGEN-c
    “Heryanto’s work is an important contribution to the study of media, politics, and culture in Indonesia. The book offers a very comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography of works in Indonesian studies, and it highlights the importance of popular culture as an area often overlooked by those who study Indonesian politics mainly through top-level political elites and government policies.”
    Review by Intan Paramaditha, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 171, (2015): 574-577.
  • 2015_08_10_TJP All the World’s a Stage-c
    “The book, though scholarly and restrained in its prose, has a critical fervor to it and it could generate energy for social change in the future if it is picked up by a younger generation of Indonesians.”“All the World’s A Stage: Ariel Heryanto and the politics of screen culture”,
    by Duncan Evans and Retno Darsi Iswandari, The Jakarta Post, 10/08/2015.


Review of State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia

Review of State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia: Fatally Belonging, London: Routledge, 2005.

“An extraordinarily rich and compelling narrative of “a world where signs and the world they represent were believed to be inseparable” (p. 32). The detailed exploration of this theme is handled with clarity and conviction, giving the lie to the familiar charge that the post-structuralist concern with signs and discourses is somehow removed from the materiality of social and political processes. In Heryanto’s hands, the attempt to read discursive systems as social texts goes to the heart of the instability that has characterized the exercise of political power in Indonesia during the New Order years and beyond.”

Review by Keith Foulcher, Sojourn, 25 (1), 2010: 139-142.

“This book performs the rare feat of ‘de-provincialising’ Indonesia. . . . This book addresses specifically one important form of political violence in Indonesia — state terrorism. Heryanto’s treatment challenges existing literature and is potentially ground-breaking.”
“Heryanto furthers our understanding of power knowledge and the differential modes of resistance. To this end, I found his discussion in the final chapter on the global dimensions of post-colonial state terrorism, hegemony, consent and resistance, extremely thought provoking. Having plodded through five painstakingly constructed chapters, readers confront once again Heryanto’s strategy of keeping the pendulum swinging between the empirical and the theoretical.”

Review by Sai Siew Min, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 39 (3), 2008: 494-497.

2008_92 (Apr-Jun)_INSIDE INDONESIA-c
“Heryanto is blessed with a capacity for compelling narrative. . . . He has a knack of unpicking theory, and herein lies the beauty of the book. Heryanto opts for gentle evocation by backlighting a series of texts and images, which he documents with precision and holds to be telling.”

Review by Emma Baulch, Inside Indonesia, 92(Apr-Jun) 2008.

“It is empirically rich and theoretically informed, analytically innovative and deliberately nuanced. Its arguments are complex, but it is cogently organized and lucidly written in most parts. It is perceptive and timely, and it transcends the often restrictive disciplinary and theoretical straitjackets in exploring a particular case of state terrorism and its social imbrications. Moreover, it carries significant implications, both theoretical and methodological, on the analysis of certain aspects of the now-ubiquitous studies on the phenomenon of transnational terrorism and state terrorism. . . . I hazard a view that it will, in time, be recognized as pathbreaking.”

Review by Rommel A. Curaming, Kasarinlan, 22(2) 2007: 142-147.

“Ariel Heryanto’s book fills this gap. Its analysis of repression and the discourse that authorised it in the Suharto years is subtle and theoretically sophisticated, and yet avoids euphemism and equivocation. . . . Heryanto has long been one of the most theoretically challenging, original and stimulating scholars writing on Indonesian politics, and this book is the culmination of his work so far. In it, he engages subtly with complex theories about power, discourse and identity.”

Review by Edward Aspinall, Asian Studies Review, 31 (2), 2007: 191-210.

2006_Vol79-No1_PACIFIC AFFAIRS-c
“Heryanto’s analysis of power is subtle and original, informed by both a deep knowledge of recent events in Indonesia and an admirable familiarity with social theory. Not many writers on Indonesian politics draw upon semiotics and poststructuralism with such aplomb.”

Review by John Roosa, Pacific Affairs, 79 (1/Spring) 2006: 154-155.

“One of the stars of a new generation of Western-educated Indonesian scholars, Ariel is deeply engaged with contemporary Indonesian culture and criticism, and able to tease out meaning from sources as diverse as pop album covers, video games and what he calls the ‘subversion by hyper-obedience’ of mass rallies during election campaigns. Ariel’s knowledge of and insights into Indonesian popular culture add depth and specifi city to his theorising, and give his book unparalleled authority.”

Review by Janet Steele, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 42 (3/Dec), 2006: 405-406.

“The book’s theoretical sophistication lies in its critical engagement with cultural politics literature, long neglected in Indonesian studies (p. 151). But Heryanto is no slave to the critical literatures that inform this book and there are strong cautionary notes for students of postcolonial authoritarianism.”

Review by Simon Philpott, Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 40 (2), 2006: 149–151.

2006_11_12_TJP Maintaining Terror as Instrument of State Control-c
“State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia provides an insightful look at one of the crucial memories of Indonesia as a nation state, and Heryanto is very comprehensive in exploring both empirical and theoretical angles in explaining”

Review by Ignatius Haryanto, The Jakarta Post, 12/11/2006.

2006_02_11_WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN Getting to grips with Indonesia-c
“Compelling and should deter readers from the popular tendency to regard Indonesia in a reductionist manner. State Terrorism, however, is more immediately relevant to today’s situation, when another kind of master narrative – that of Islamic terrorism – is spreading in the Western world.”

Review by Dewi Anggraeni, Weekend Australia, 11-12/02, 2006: R8-9.



Review of Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia

Review of Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia; Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia, (co-editor with Sumit K. Mandal), London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

  • 2004_Vol28-No3_ASIAN STUDIES REVIEW-c
    “This empirically rich and theoretically well-informed collection of comparative essays on women, intellectuals, art workers and industrial workers, as well as environmental and Islamic activists in Indonesia and Malaysia during the late 1990s is an interesting attempt to excavate the complex social forces that are currently forming the civil societies in the two countries.”

    Review by Michael Jacobsen, Asian Studies Review, 28 (3), 2004: 342-343.

    “Together, the six essays and the incisive introduction provide some new ways of looking at authoritarianism in the region. Whether soft or hard, the phenomenon needs to be better understood in local contexts. The remedy against its persistence and its spread may not be found in borrowing from the West and confronting it with set arguments about democracy being the only antidote to this particular ailment.”

    Review by Wang Gungwu, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 26 (1/Apr), 2004: 181-183.

  • 2004_10-Aug_INTERSECTIONS-c
    “The book constitutes a vital contribution, as its contributors provide detailed empirical accounts of social activists and ‘extra-parliamentary actors’ working outside of formal institutional frameworks, as well as describing sets of political dynamics away from political elites.”

    Review by Ian Wilson, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 10 (August), 2004.

  • 2004_04_25 THE NATION The Lessons of Reformasi-c
    “While the book is written in the strict fashion of academic writing developed in the West, most of the book’s contributors are local scholars who themselves have had direct personal involvement with the activism discussed. This is not a book written by armchair academics in a faraway air-conditioned ivory tower.”

    Review by Rungrawee C Pinyorat, The Nation, 25/04/2004: 8B.

  • 2003_10_05_TJP Southeast Asia Dare Say Enough Is Enough-c
    “Ariel Heryanto, Sumit Mandal and their cowriters are to be congratulated for the publication of this important book. Written and conceptualized in the period leading up to the reformasi (refonn) upheavals in Indonesia, and Malaysia, it offers the reader a serious and in-depth evaluation of the sociopolitical implications of those events. More than that, it examines and offers fresh analyses of the challenges to the persistence of authoritarianism.”

    Review by Johan Saravanamuttu, The Jakarta Post, 5/11/2003: 8.

  • 2003_09_No16_OPTIONS2 The Establishment and The People-c
    “This book seeks to record one aspect of life in Malaysia and Indonesia. the battle of the last few years against oppression. It does not provide any blue print for the future but it does provide valuable insights into the present – insights that are necessary for a more accurate view of the socio-political situation of the two countries. This is important not only for aiding a better understanding of one another, but also as a foundation upon which to build a more cohesive and informed approach towards the opposition of tyranny. A foundation cannot be built upon the rubble of home truths.”

    Review by Azmi Sharom, Options2, 9 (16/Sept), 2003: 26.

  • 2003_09_15_TEMPO Neighborhood Watch-c
    “The editors and contributors have skillfully maintained their focus on the issue while successfully avoiding the obvious danger of digressing, thus opening Pandora’s box and overreaching.”

    Review by Dewi Anggraeni, Tempo, 15/09/2003: 64.