This article fleshes out how two Indonesian sociocultural-themed documentary films of the post-New Order era articulate the counter-imaginaries of Javaneseness. They are Jamu (Javanese Traditional Medicine) and Kulo Ndiko Sami (We are Brothers). The emergence of bringing the issue of Javaneseness to light has its cause on its complex politicization in the New Order regime. Javaneseness was ideologically manipulated as the hegemonic narrative of the state to construct an image of Indonesian society. Javaneseness incorporated by the regime was of a desired aristocratic model in combination with other non-Javanese worldviews.
This desired strand of imagining was then politically used to simplify the whole gamut of Javanese cultures and marginalize other ethnic cultures. With the collapse of the New Order, sociocultural activists and filmmakers of the grassroots regarded the burgeoning of independent documentary filmmaking as momentum to utilize documentary film as a medium to project alternative interpretations of Javaneseness. The article proposes a symptomatic reading of the examined films by looking at their aesthetics and ideological aspects framed and situated
within the oppositional views of the imagined community by Benedict Anderson and Partha Chatterjee. By drawing on the films’ aesthetics and ideologies that articulate Javaneseness, this article aims to show two points. First, the counter-imaginaries of the New Order’s Javaneseness are projected through the documentaries and such projections prove to be dynamic. Second, inclusive views on how to represent ethnicities in contemporary Indonesia need promulgating.


hegemony, counter-imaginary, interpretation, narrative, representation

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)