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In this volume, James T. Siegel studies the dependence of Indonesia's post-1965 government on the ubiquitous presence of what he calls criminality, an ensemble of imagined forces within its society that is poised to tear it apart. Siegel, a foremost authority on Indonesia, interprets Suharto's New Order - in powerful contrast to Sukar's Old Order - and shows a cultural and political life in Jakarta controlled by a repressive regime that has created new ideas among its population about crime, ghosts, fear, and national identity. Examining the links between the concept of criminality and scandal, rumour, fear, and the state, siegel analyses daily life in Jakarta through the seemingly disparate but strongly connected elements of family life, gossip, and sensationalist journalism. He offers close analysis of the preoccupation with crime in Pos Kota (a news paper directed toward the lower classes) and the middle-class magazine Tempo. Because criminal activity has been a sensationalised preoccupation in Jakarta's news venues and among its people, criminality, according to Siegel, has pervaded the identities of its ordinary citizens. siegel examines how and why the government, fearing revolution and in an attempt to assert power, has made criminality itself a disturbing rationalization for the spectacular massacre of the people it calls criminals - many of whom were never accused of particular crimes. This book reveals that Indonesians - once united by sukar's revolutionary proclamations in the name of the people -are w, lacking any other unifying element, united through their identification with the criminal and through a nationalisation of death that has emerged with Suharto's strong counter-revolution A provocative introduction to contemporary Indonesia,this book will engaged those interested in southeast Asian studies, anthropology, history, political science, postcolonial studies, public culture, and cultural studies generally.
James T. Siegel is Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cornell University and author of numerous books, including Solo in the New Order: Language and Hierarchy in an Indonesian City and Fetish, Recognition, Revolution.