The visibility of a pious public
Abstract The downfall of Suharto’s regime in 1998 has been marked by the increasing visibility of Islamic piety in a form of popular culture. Tracing the emergent new genre of sinetron religi (religious TV series/serials), this paper analyzes the discourses of Islamic piety in several different series/serials, the construction of the public and the wider implication of these discourses for the position of Islam culturally and politically in Indonesia. This article argues that religious melodrama series/serials are a site of contestation of incoherent concepts of piety. As a cultural text, it interpellates its public and allows us to see how the visibility of religious discourses in public becomes a subject of negotiations and confrontations, while at the same time triggers the politicization of piety as national identity.
Keywords: Indonesia, public, popular piety culture, Islam, sinetron religi (religious TV series/serials)
Rianne Subijanto is a graduate of University of Indonesia (B.A.) and New York University (M.A.). She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in media studies at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research focuses on Indonesia, media and modernity, including analyses of Islam and popular culture, of broadcasting industries and cultural policy and of the political economy of post-colonial Indonesia. Her publications include ‘Indonesian Islamist media: a struggle against or a legitimacy of the dominant ideology?’ in Thao Le(ed.) Critical Discourse Analysis: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (2009); and ‘Producing a religious TV series: the making of a popular piety culture in Indonesia’ in Monograph in Media Anthropology, DIGITHUM Journal (2009).