Noting the increasing tendency of Indonesian pop performers to organize and agitate politically, the article aims to locate these celebrity politics in a history of media change, and to explore their implications for lower-class collective organizing. Through a discussion of two pop performances that explicitly address the lower classes—the Jakarta-based rock band Slank and the Balinese solo performer Nanoe Biroe—the author traces the increasing recognition of pop idols as politically authoritative figures and the emergence of a new form of corporatized associational life (the fan group) as a site for attending to that authority. The author argues that these developments in public culture can be linked to changes to the media environment since the end of the Cold War, which include but are not limited to widespread digital uptake. The article engages work investigating prospects for critical forms of belonging within a neoliberal communicative environment–especially Jodi Dean’s writings on communicative capitalism. It examines the vulnerabilities and possibilities of lower-class performances and solidarities and brings to light the broader media infrastructures that enable them.
The Everyman and the Dung Beetle: New Media Infrastructures for Lower-Class Cultural Politics
Emma Baulch is a senior research fellow at the Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology. She has written extensively about Indonesian popular music and is the author of Making Scenes (2007). This article is based on research undertaken as part of “Mobile Indonesians: Digital Literacies and Social Differentiation in the Twenty-First Century,” funded by the Australian Research Council.
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Emma Baulch; The Everyman and the Dung Beetle: New Media Infrastructures for Lower-Class Cultural Politics. Cultural Politics 1 July 2017; 13 (2): 202–226. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-4129149
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