The study of Southeast Asian Islam has a strong tendency to focus on either its institutionalized or politicized forms. Rigorous work has been published on Islamic fundamentalism, liberalism, jurisprudence, legal codification, and popular movements, using primarily textual sources. Placing equal emphasis on the uncodified aspects of Islam, this panel will explore the performative aspects of Indonesian Islam to draw attention to how Islamic ideas are communicated through the arts – specifically, through the embodied, visual, and oral/aural transmission of theatre and dance. Since the 1970s, performance studies and dance scholars have shifted away from a Western prioritization of arts documentation and choreography, towards an expanded understanding of movement as shared cultural knowledge and of the body as inscribing culture (Snyder 1974; Foster 1995; Hahn 2007). This awareness and expansion of potential archives includes the body and arts practitioners as a meaningful site for scholars to think beyond text-centric knowledge systems. In Indonesia, the performing arts convey Islamic ideals of ethics, aesthetics, and identity on both regional and national scales, and the performing arts enables a deeper discussion of how performance mediates Islamic piety (Daniels 2013). This panel studies theater, dance, and national/international festivals to reimagine Islamic identities in Old Order (1950–65), New Order (1965–98), and post-1998 contemporary Indonesia, looking towards the critical role that practitioners have played in the formation of Indonesian Muslim identity. Centering art forms with “Islamic flavor” (Kartomi 2012), this panel illustrates how Islam has been fundamental to mediating distinctly Indonesian forms of artistic expression.
Paper Presenter: Hongxuan Lin – National University of Singapore
Paper Presenter: Katia Chaterji – University of Washington
Paper Presenter: Jeffrey Gan – University of Texas at Austin