Political power, corruption, and witchcraft in modern Indonesia

Alhumami, Amich (2012) Political power, corruption, and witchcraft in modern Indonesia. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis examines the relationships between political power, corruption, and witchcraft in modern Indonesia through an analysis of the discursive construction of these concepts in Indonesian society. The subject is approached through an observation of how public discourses of corruption and sorcery are used by people in an instrumental way to talk about and understand political processes in the country. The central argument of the thesis is that Indonesian society experiences contemporary politics in a context that combines values and practices of political modernity and secular rationality with those of witchcraft, sorcery, and the occult. The thesis demonstrates how Indonesian politics has been transformed into a modern-secular democracy by juxtaposing traditionalism and modernism. Both are interconnected features of contemporary Indonesian modernity.

The thesis focuses on corruption and sorcery discourses within the context of the political democracy that has been established in Indonesia following the collapse of the New Order state. There is currently a great deal of expectation that the system of democracy will promote public participation - in the sense that people become involved in political processes, that civil society becomes more effective and that the holders of state powers become more accountable - which should in turn curb corruption. Unfortunately, corruption appears to be pervasive within the new democratic polity, and both corruption and sorcery persist alongside the dynamics of political contestations and power struggles. In the light of continuing corruption practices, many groups of Indonesian society initiate anti-corruption movements by mobilizing social and political resources through collective action. Anti-corruption initiatives are taken by both state institutions and civil society associations, and seek to improve public governance and promote political reform.

Nevertheless, non-state actors—NGOs and civil society agencies—appear to have become the major voices of public criticism against corruption and they have taken the lead in promoting anti-corruption reforms. These actors involve educated people from the urban middle classes: social and political activists, intellectuals, artists, poets, journalists, as well as religious leaders associated with Islamic organizations: the Nahdhatul Ulama (NU), the Muhammadiyah, and the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). It is argued that the ideas and practices of anti-corruption have found new spaces of expression under the new democratic system, and that Indonesian civil society and NGO activists are determined to continue their struggles to fight corruption for the betterment of the nation despite a great deal of opposition which is mostly political. They believe that the new system of political democracy will be much more beneficial for all Indonesian people if corruption can be eliminated from state agencies and political institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF1404 Occult sciences > BF1562.5 Witchcraft
D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS520 Southeast Asia > DS611 Indonesia (Dutch East Indies)
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2012 11:00
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39273

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