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ISBN:0801426723
Author: John Pemberton
ISBN13: 978-0801426728
Title: On the Subject of "Java"
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ePUB size: 1624 kb
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Language: English
Category: Politics and Government
Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1st edition (December 15, 1994)
Pages: 320

On the Subject of "Java" by John Pemberton



John Pemberton explores these questions in this far-reaching ethnographic and historical interpretation of cultural discourse in Indonesia since 1965. This is a wonderful book-insightful, funny, engrossing. Through the subject of 'Java,' it subtly but surely turns over the way we think about the culture of politics and the politics of culture. Everyone who cares about comparative cultural studies should read i. -Anna Tsing, author of In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place.

John Pemberton explores these questions in this far-reaching ethnographic and historical interpretation of cultural discourse in Indonesia since 1965. The book is not a analysis of military repression but an examination of a far more ambiguous, interiorized form of repression that makes the apparent normality of everyday life conceivable, desirable. ) Yes, I would say that the book is devoted to two streams of ideas. John Stith Pemberton (July 8, 1831 – August 16, 1888) was an American pharmacist, and is best known for being the inventor of Coca-Cola. Books by John Pemberton. Through the subject of 'Java, ' it subtly but surely turns over the way we think about the culture of politics and the politics of culture.

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John Pemberton is an associate professor of anthropology at Columbia University. from Cornell University after doing undergraduate and Masters' work at Wesleyan University and being associated with the music program at California Institute for the Arts. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, where his father taught at the college. The Royal Progress of 1745. Margaret Steedly (1996) On the Subject of "Java" by John Pemberton American Ethnologist, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Fe. 1996), pp. 197-198.

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What are the limits of cultural critique? What are the horizons? What are the political implications? John Pemberton explores these questions in this far-reaching ethnographic and historical interpretation of cultural discourse in Indonesia since 1965. Pemberton considers in particular how the appearance of order under Soeharto's repressive New Order regime is an effect of an enigmatic politics founded upon routine appeals to cultural values.

Through a richly textured ethnographic account of events ranging from national elections to weddings, Pemberton simultaneously elucidates and disturbs the contours of the New Order cultural imaginary. He pursues the fugitive signs of circumstances that might resist the powers of New Order rule through unexpected village practices, among graveyard spirits, and within ascetic refuges.

Key to this study is a reexamination of the historical conditions under which a discourse of culture emerges. Providing a close reading of a number of Central Javanese manuscripts from the late eighteenth century on, Pemberton outlines the conditions of knowledge formation in Indonesia since the beginning of Dutch colonial control. As he overturns common assumptions concerning colonial encounters, he discloses the gradual emergence in these texts of a discursive figure inscribed in contrast to the increasingly invasive presence of the Dutch: a figuration of difference that came to be called "Java."

Reviews: 2
Purestone
First of all, let me state that while this is a most interesting book in its conception, it has some most annoying features in its delivery. Secondly, since Suharto's New Order has bitten the dust (but probably not completely), many of the observations and tendencies described here are the stuff of social history, not portrayals of modern Indonesia. This is of course what happens to all anthropology.

As I read the first chapter I began to dread my voyage through all the pages because I repeatedly bumped into all those dreary terms, badly-translated from the French writings of Foucault, Bourdieu, Barthes, et.al---sitings, recuperation of difference, temporalities, ethnographic inscription, imbricated, the appearance of absence, terms of enframement and the desire to position something. Sigh. Fortunately, all these fell away as if they had been walled up in some academic "ghetto" and the author began to use language more familiar to the speakers of English. "The book is not a analysis of military repression but an examination of a far more ambiguous, interiorized form of repression that makes the apparent normality of everyday life conceivable, desirable." (p.7) Yes, I would say that the book is devoted to two streams of ideas. First, the New Order (1965-1998) used and relied on a revised version of Javanese culture to prop up its rule, to make people quiescent. How was this transformation effected? Second, a vastly detailed description of many facets of modern Javanese culture, both revised and unrevised parts.

From an outsider's point of view, what happened in Java resembles Disneyland more than a little. Javanese culture was "sanitized" or cleaned up to resemble the way the rulers thought it should look. Any tendencies which involved conflict or unruly, uncontrolled behavior were strongly discouraged if not banned outright. Pemberton points out how this process began long before, during Dutch rule in the 19th century (and up to 1942). He also shows that Javanese culture, even today, contains elements of chaos and uncontrolled behavior ignored by both Geertz (in his classic works on Java) and the Suharto government. Madame Suharto's Mini-Indonesia project (directly inspired by a visit to Disneyland in L.A.) assumes a central role in the description, as do palace architectural restorations, wedding ceremonies, and rituals at pilgrimage sites. The New Order government tried to turn specific rituals into a more generalized worship/respect of "tradition", which in fact had been manufactured. Taking all of these "traditions" together, the author refers to "Java". OK, I can understand that. There is so much in his research that reminds one of Orientalism, but Said did not rate a mention. "Java" is in fact an Orientalized version of actual Java, created, adopted and promulgated by the New Order leaders who remained unaware (or deliberately neglectful) of their colonial roots.
My criticism also includes the ironic, mocking tone throughout which began to wear; his use of English words in Indonesian transcription definitely added to this feeling---otomobil, tradision, ekstra, sukses. Perhaps it was an attempt to bring humor into a sad situation, but.....

I also thought that this book could have been edited considerably. The author makes some very creative and intelligent points. You can't help but be impressed by some of his observations and the way he went about doing his research. However, holding onto every scrap of data is not necessarily a positive quality. The points could have been made, in other words, without such detailed asides, because the reader loses touch with the main ideas, the direction becomes unclear. Given that the author probably wished to avoid being banned entirely from Indonesia, his approach is masterfully diplomatic, never condemning the government outright, yet trying to show the extent of what had been done. This indirect, Javanese approach adopted by the author speaks well of his adjustment to Java, and I may be called Mr. Kasar for pointing out that stating directly what you mean is not a bad idea in books geared to Western readers.
Ubranzac
Very readable and relevant not only to academic anthropologists but anyone interested in Indonesian history. Pemberton extends Hobsbawn's notion of "invented traditions" to show how Soeharto's new order has constructed Java and greater Indonesia according to his nationalist agenda. Pemberton's overall argument is argued more or less cogently. However, a problem emerges as he endeavors to depict Java and its traditions as a construct. Namely, Pemberton has a tendency to lump all Javanese experience together, assuming that individuals of different backgrounds all share the same understading of Java and its traditions. Pemberton ultimately overestimates the extent of the political center's power over all Javanese. As a result, this makes for good history but is not thorough enough in its approach and is to generalizing to be considered a good ethnography.