“This volume is brimming with interesting material. I know of no other study of contemporary performing arts in Indonesia that goes so deeply into the politics of meaning within such a complex genre.”
R. Anderson Sutton, author of Calling Back the Spirit: Music, Dance, and Cultural Politics in Lowland South Sulawes
“With its thorough, integrative approach to performance, politics, and media, this book provides a stimulating model for future ethnography and scholarship on the performing arts in Asia.”
Journal of Asian Studies
Based on ethnographic fieldwork spanning twenty years, Power Plays is the first scholarly book in English on wayang golek, the Sundanese rod-puppet theater of West Java. It is a detailed and lively account of the ways in which performers of this major Asian theatrical form have engaged with political discourses in Indonesia. Wayang golek has shaped, as well, the technological and commercial conditions of art and performance in a modernizing society.
Using interviews with performers, musical transcriptions, translations of narrative and song texts, and archival materials, author Andrew N. Weintraub analyzes the shifting and flexible nature of a set of performance practices called Padalangan, the art of the puppeteer. He focuses on “superstar” performers and the musical troupes that dominated wayang golek during the New Order political regime of former president Suharto (1966-98) and the ensuing three years of the post-Suharto period. Studies of actual performances illuminate stylistic and formal elements and situate wayang golek as a social process in Sundanese culture and society. Power Plays includes an interactive multimedia CD-ROM of wayang golek.
Power Plays shows how meanings about identity, citizenship, and community are produced through theater, music, language, and discourse. While based in ethnographic theory and methods, this book is at the center of a new synthesis emerging among ethnomusicology, anthropology, and cultural studies. Its cross-disciplinary approach will inspire researchers studying similar struggles over cultural authority and popular representation in culture and the performing arts.
Andrew N. Weintraub is an assistant professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh. His articles have appeared in edited collections, encyclopedias, and journals, including Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, Asian Theatre Journal IndonesiaM, and Perfect Beat. As a practitioner of Indonesian gamelan and martial arts, he has performed in the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. More info →
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Nigerian video films—dramatic features shot on video and sold as cassettes—are being produced at the rate of nearly one a day, making them the major contemporary art form in Nigeria. The history of African film offers no precedent for such a huge, popularly based industry. The contributors to this volume, who include film and television directors, an anthropologist, and scholars of film studies and literature, take a variety of approaches to this flourishing popular art.
Most of the earlier studies on the Indonesian political party, Golkar, tend to view the organization solely as an electoral machine used by the military to legitimize its power. However, this study is different in that it considers Golkar less an electoral machine and more as a political organization which inherited the political traditions of the nominal Muslim parties and the Javanese governing elite pre-1965, before the inauguration of Indonesia’s New Order.
Randai, the popular folk theater tradition of the Minangkabau ethnic group in West Sumatra, has evolved to include influences of martial arts, storytelling, and folk songs. Theater and Martial Arts in West Sumatra describes the origin, development, and cultural background of randai and highlights two recent developments: the emergence of female performers and modern staging techniques.
Resistance on the National Stage analyzes the ways in which, between 1985 and 1998, modern theater practitioners in Indonesia contributed to a rising movement of social protest against the long-governing New Order regime of President Suharto.