The middle class and morality politics in the envisioning of the nation in post-Suharto Indonesia
ABSTRACT The essay examines the growth of politics of morality in post-Suharto Indonesia by linking it to the genealogy and characteristics of the Indonesian middle class, especially during the New Order period, without reducing the issue to primordialism or Islamic revivalism. Instead, it tries to address the issue by looking into the internal contradiction of the Indonesian middle class, whose identity and definition remain murky and muddled. A survey of some key thoughts proposed by several leading scholars regarding Indonesian national culture, nationalism, and middle class is offered in order to better understand the link between the middle class and its vision of national culture, and how morality politics emerges as a new, dominant factor in the formation of such a vision. This essay focuses on the development that has taken place during the post-Suharto era, which began with the Reformasi in 1998 that witnessed the demise of the New Order’s domination, and how various elements of the middle class reacted in different ways to social and cultural issues emerging in post-Suharto Indonesia, revealing the complexity and heterogeneity in the moral and political views of the group.
KEYWORDS: post-Suharto Indonesia, middle class, morality politics, national culture
Manneke Budiman teaches literature and cultural studies at the Department of Literature, Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia. His areas of interest include women’s and gender studies, post-colonial studies and translation studies. He received his Ph.D. in Asian Studies from the University of Columbia, Canada. He is also trained in English Literature and Comparative Literature. His most recent research looks at the ways in which women authors in post-Suharto Indonesia attempt to redefine the nation through their works of fiction.