Through much of post-colonial history and particularly during the so-called 'New Order' ( under General Suharto), Indonesian citizens of ethnic Chinese descent have been caught in a strangely ambiguous position: they have enjoyed enormous economic power while at the same time being threatened with politico-cultural effacement. This paper is an attempt to understand that ambiguity in relation to the Indonesian cinema - both around questions of industry history and around issues of representation of national and ethnic identity on screen. The paper traces the presence, the erasure and the absent-presence of Indonesia's ethnic Chinese minority from the establishment of a film industry in Indonesia in the 1930s to the post-New Order political shifts, opening up possibilities for a new public discourse of Chineseness. I argue however that the openness of current Indonesian culture and politics, while providing the necessary condition for re-imagining the Chinese Indonesians, does not ensure a radical shift in a politics of representation, deeply embedded in the textual practices of the film industry and more widely in the cultural and political history of modern Indonesia.
|Journal||Inter-Asia Cultural Studies|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|