Winarnita, Monika; Araujo, Natalie
January 2016
Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology & Cultural Studies;2016, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p134
Academic Journal
Dance performances embody both the potentialities of multicultural and cosmopolitan identity and their contradictions. Through an ethnography of Chinese-Indonesian female migrants in Perth, Western Australia and their dances, this paper provides a window into understanding an intertwining of ‘glocal’ affiliations and cosmopolitan self-representations. Representing the largest visible group of Indonesian migrants in Australia, the Chinese ‘descendants’ (keturunan) perform as Indonesian traditional dancers on the Australian multicultural stage, to ‘celebrate the institutions of the state(s) in which [they] live’ (Appiah 1997, 633). Nevertheless and perhaps inevitably, this cosmopatriot identity was often tinted with uncertainty due to the ambiguity surrounding their positioning as a legally and culturally accepted ethnic group in Indonesia. When viewed as ‘ethnic’ dancers from Jakarta, these women were seen as ‘legitimate’ cultural representatives; the Indonesian migrant community accepted the discourse of Chinese historical settlement in Jakarta, creating a cultural syncretic influence. However, their own internal sense of belonging was disrupted, particularly due to the lingering memory of the violent ‘May Riots’ of 1998, which targeted Chinese-Indonesians. For many, the uncertainty generated by this violent episode became the reason for migration and settlement in Perth. Migration, the Australian multicultural stage, and a cosmopolitan worldview thus provide the spaces for Chinese Indonesians to express a cosmopatriotic affiliation with Indonesia despite the traumas of the riots and the realities of being in a neighbouring country.


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