Proxy or Patriots?: Diasporic Politics and Performance of the Chinese in Indonesia

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

Chinese Indonesians are a culturally, socially, and politically diverse group. In the political sphere, and despite the resistance of many overseas Chinese to such characterisations, the overseas Chinese in Indonesia and elsewhere have often been seen as a resource or proxy for Beijing’s advancement of its interests abroad. In the cultural sphere, the Chinese-Indonesian contribution has spanned traditional and modern genres including opera, puppetry and spoken theatre as well as musical forms, thereby profoundly enriching Indonesia's cultural palette. During the Cold War, the Suharto regime institutionalised discrimination against the Chinese minority in Indonesia based on the charge that they were used by Beijing for exporting communist revolution. This had profound repercussions on the way that Chinese Indonesians expressed themselves on stages and in society at large. In this seminar, the two speakers will investigate the spaces where high diplomacy, cultural production, and everyday life experiences of the diaspora have intersected since the mid-20th century.

About the speakers

Josh Stenberg is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney, specialising in Sino-Southeast Asian literature and theatre. His work has appeared in journals such as Theatre Journal, Theatre Research International, Theatre Topics, Asian Theatre Journal, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and China Information. His monograph, Minority Stages: Sino-Indonesian Theatre and Public Display (University of Hawai’i Press, 2019), charts Sino-Indonesian performance practices from the late colonial period to the present day. He is presently working on Chinese theatre in Myanmar and Philippines.

Taomo Zhou is an Assistant Professor of History at Nanyang Technological University, specializing in modern Chinese and Southeast Asian history. Her writings have appeared in publications such as The China Quarterly, The Critical Asian Studies, the journal Indonesia, and The SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China. Taomo’s first book, Migration in the Time of Revolution: China, Indonesia and the Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2019), examines how two of the world's most populous countries interacted when the concept of citizenship was contested and the boundaries of political mobilization were blurred. She is starting a second project on the historical transformation of Shenzhen, the first special economic zone of China.

Before the seminar

All attendees are invited to join us in the CIW Tea House from 3.30pm for an informal discussion with the guest speaker before the seminar.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.