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Products for grant FA-232431-16

Expressing and Contesting Java-Islam through Performing Arts in Indonesia
Professor Sumarsam, Wesleyan University

Grant details:

Gamelan and Wayang as Inter- and Intra-Cultural Objects (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: Gamelan and Wayang as Inter- and Intra-Cultural Objects
Author: Sumarsam
Abstract: Ethnomusicology is often conceived as the study of cultural performances by living musicians and their roles in contemporary society. This implies that the field is lacking interest in historical approach to the formulation of performing arts. I argue that in order to fully understand any forms of contemporary performance genres, it is important to trace their historical formation and transformation. Formation refers to the process of formulating a certain genre in a particular period of history; transformation, the genre continues, change, modify, or disappear in accord with the changes of socio-cultural circumstances. This paper discusses contemporary gamelan and wayang from the above line of thoughts: in what ways and what is the result after the genres have to adjust themselves to certain historical and socio-cultural changes and the changing of artists’ perspectives. Two main processes define the change and continuity of these performance genres: (1) the interaction between Java and other islands in Indonesia (intra-cultural interaction), and (2) the interaction between Java and foreign culture (inter-cultural interaction). I will illustrate the former by examining the dynamic historical relationship between Java and Bali, its impact on performing arts in both regions. For the latter, the relation between the West and Indonesia in the twentieth century will be discussed, particularly its impact on the content and context of contemporary wayang and gamelan.
Date Range: August 27-29, 2017
Location: Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta