Urban Stories: Spatiality, Visual Mediality, and Religious Authority in Contemporary Indonesia
Aryo Danusiri Dissertation Harvard.pdf (8.342Mb)
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CitationDanusiri, Aryo. 2020. Urban Stories: Spatiality, Visual Mediality, and Religious Authority in Contemporary Indonesia. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractA striking new phenomenon in Indonesia since the fall of President Suharto (1998) is the heightened public visibility of different Islamic groups, which vie with each other for attention in the national capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere with increasing boldness. Of particular interest are the Sufi-oriented voluntary study groups led by young scholars of Arab Hadrami sayyid descent. Since 2006, these groups have weekly unleashed lavish multimedia performances on Jakarta’s streets, taking advantage of the perpetual traffic jams by engaging passers-by and halting cars. These motorcades move across and around Jakarta’s roadways, parks, and other public places, as well as mosques and tombs, attracting tens of thousands of young adherents. The followers of this movement are highly mobile, using motorbikes, communication technologies, and the Internet. Remarkably, these weekly events celebrate mawlid or the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, which, until recently, was an annual event sponsored by the State and celebrated through a range of vernacular religious rituals. It unsettles the secular status of urban public spaces and worries many self-identifying secularist Indonesians. By focusing on these Islamic youth groups' critical practices in assembling various circulatory forms, I examine how these groups invoke their ‘right to the city,’ remaking urban-sacred networks and cultivating new subjectivities. How do these practices of circulation shape religious authority and address the political interests of the participants? What tactics do study groups utilize to perform the spatiality and the visual mediality in constructing their religious authority? What forms of religious authority are amplified from those spatial and media tactics? What kind of local, national, and transnational networks do they build to support this preaching strategy? By posing mobility as an interface of urban tactics, moral discipline, and citizen formation, I contribute to the emerging theorization of religious authority, and new media, the urban and Islamic youth movements in the global south.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37369484
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