Skip navigation
Skip navigation

(Un)toward Progress: Stories of Modernity and Development in Indonesian Film and Fiction

Downes, Meghan

Description

In this thesis, I trace a powerful narrative theme of ‘progress’ across several different genres of storytelling: fictional stories in cinema and literature, audience accounts of everyday consumption practices, and the various stories circulating in media, public debate, and academic scholarship. Stories of progress are pervasive and compelling in contemporary Indonesia, whether in ‘inspirational’ films and novels featuring upwardly mobile young protagonists,...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDownes, Meghan
dc.date.accessioned2017-06-20T05:12:19Z
dc.date.available2017-06-20T05:12:19Z
dc.identifier.otherb4447295x
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/117704
dc.description.abstractIn this thesis, I trace a powerful narrative theme of ‘progress’ across several different genres of storytelling: fictional stories in cinema and literature, audience accounts of everyday consumption practices, and the various stories circulating in media, public debate, and academic scholarship. Stories of progress are pervasive and compelling in contemporary Indonesia, whether in ‘inspirational’ films and novels featuring upwardly mobile young protagonists, or in audience discussions and media debates about the potential of such fictional stories to ‘advance’ and ‘develop’ the nation in both material and moral terms. Central to many of these stories are the keywords ‘modernity’ and ‘development.’ I seek to highlight the flexible and unstable iridescence of these keywords as preferred metaphors for interpreting complex social changes, and also the intimate links these terms share with disempowering colonialist and developmentalist discourses around civilisation and linear trajectories of progress. A key premise of this thesis is that words, language, and stories have concrete impacts on our ways of understanding and interpreting the world, and I suggest that uncritical use of opaque terms like ‘modernity’ and ‘development’ can mask deep complexities, reinforce structural inequalities, and erase alternative stories, particularly in postcolonial contexts like Indonesia. My study is informed by critical postcolonial and post-development theory, but I take a cultural studies perspective, focusing on how everyday stories of progress can serve to either challenge or reinforce dominant versions of ‘modernity’ and ‘development.’ Indonesia has a long and fraught history with these terms, and certain versions have attained dominance, coming to structure the narratives of progress circulating within and about Indonesia in the post-reform context. I examine how and why particular versions of progress narratives have become so powerful, where these stories are being most strongly articulated and contested, how these stories have shifted since the demise of the long-powerful New Order regime, and the divergent ways in which central keywords like ‘development,’ and ‘modernity’ operate across different types of stories, including scholarly accounts, public debates, audience discussions, and textual representations. In order to gain a nuanced understanding of what is going on in these stories, I combine close readings of selected popular films and novels, with audience ethnography, and media discourse analysis. I argue that a deeper understanding of both the pervasiveness and internal contradictions of progress narratives as they are articulated in each of these area can help us, as scholars, to engage more effectively with contemporary identity politics and debates around religion, region, gender, and history in Indonesia, and also to address representational inequalities in the production of knowledge more broadly. As my study demonstrates, the realm of popular culture offers unique insight into these issues, and therefore my thesis contributes not just to Indonesian studies and critical development studies, but also joins important scholarly debates and conversations around the challenges and opportunities of practicing cultural studies in Asian contexts.
dc.format.extent1 vol.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherCanberra, ACT : The Australian National University
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.title(Un)toward Progress: Stories of Modernity and Development in Indonesian Film and Fiction
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.institutionThe Australian National University
local.contributor.supervisorHeryanto, Ariel
local.contributor.supervisorcontactariel.heryanto@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2017
local.description.notesthe author deposited 20/06/17
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2016
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationDepartment of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, The Australian National University
local.description.embargo2021-05-01
local.request.emailrepository.admin@anu.edu.au
local.request.nameDigital Theses
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d5145f26514c
dcterms.accessRightsRestricted access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsRestricted Theses

Download

File Description SizeFormat Image
Downes Thesis 2017.pdf1.67 MBAdobe PDFThumbnail
    Request a copy


Items in Open Research are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

Updated:  19 May 2020/ Responsible Officer:  University Librarian/ Page Contact:  Library Systems & Web Coordinator