Reflections on the State in Indonesia
STATE OF AUTHORITY: THE STATE IN SOCIETY IN INDONESIA, pp. 17-45, Gerry van Klinken, Joshua Barker, eds., Cornell University Southeast Asia Program, 2009
29 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 1, 2009
It is difficult to imagine what the study of Indonesia would be like if it had not included debates about the state. Contributors to these debates have included some of Indonesian studies’ best-known figures, who have provided nuanced arguments about how best to understand each successive change in the political regime. One of our central questions, as we reread their work, was whether these previous understandings were perhaps not so much descriptions of the existing state but rather images of an idealized state, ideological statements whose origins lie with the state itself. The history of the concept “state” is itself inescapably ideological, so the possibility seemed all too real that an academic wishing to generalize about something as vast as the Indonesian state may have unintentionally adopted a projected image from elsewhere. Of course, kernels of empirical truth can sustain the longevity of these images of the state. Nonetheless, we felt that now such images were in genuine need of interrogation.
Keywords: state, bureaucratic polity, neopatrimonialism, migdal, geertz, weber, marx
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