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  • 2019AdhyanggonoPhD

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Imagining Javaneseness in contemporary Indonesian socio-cultural documentaries

Research output: Thesis › Doctoral Thesis

  • Gerardus Adhyanggono
Publication date2019
Number of pages304
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis explores imagination of Javaneseness, from a selection of contemporary Indonesian socio-cultural-themed documentaries in the first decade of the Indonesian reform period. The 1998 political change of Indonesia, from the authoritarian regime of the New Order to a more democratic one, rendered significant impacts in many aspects of Indonesians’ lives. Personal attempts to reinterpret ethnic identities was one of them. These were captured in the documentary filmmaking practices of the period where imagining Javaneseness had been hardly problematised before. Such attempts matter as in the New Order period, the regime had developed its Java-centric state culture that was aristocratic, moralistic, and capitalistic. The examined documentaries of this post-authoritarian period suggests that Javaneseness is not a homogeneous construct, but heterogeneous, amorphous, and transient one. I make use of a hermeneutic constructionism to analyse Javaneseness in the films. As a result, three models of Javaneseness projected in the documentaries of diverse topics demonstrate the fluid nature of what it means to be Javanese. The first is an imagined Javaneseness based on some interpretations of traditional Javanese
values in their representational links to the Javanese courts. The second is an
imagined Javaneseness critical to some traditional values and unrelated to the courts. And the third is a projected Javaneseness resulted from a negotiation with a political history. By examining the imagined Javaneseness of the documentary films of the period, this thesis not only provides how Javaneseness is understood and represented in the post-authoritarian Indonesia but also a piece of evidence of the revival of documentary movement in the country. At the same time, there is a shift from the previously state-dominated documentary production to a more democratised, civic and liberal one.