Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia

Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia

Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia

Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesia


Divine Inspirations: Music and Islam in Indonesiabrings together the work of 11 international scholars into an unprecedented volume focused on religion and performance in a nation celebrated for its extraordinary arts, religious diversity, and natural beauty. The resulting collection provides a panoramic view of Indonesia's Islamic arts in a variety of settings and communities. Together the authors address how history, politics, spirituality, and gender are expressed through performance and how Indonesian Islamic culture intersects with the ideology and practice of nationalism.

Unique and engaging,Divine Inspirationswill fascinate readers interested in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Islam, world religions, global discourse, and music, arts and ritual.


David D. Harnish and Anne K. Rasmussen

In large cities and small villages, a traveler to Indonesia today will notice the Islamic aspects of Indonesian culture more readily than the courtly arts traditions that are celebrated internationally in museums and concert series or the spectacular rites of passage and trance dancing that form part of the canon of anthropologists and scholars of world religions. Documented brilliantly throughout the 20 century by such leading world scholars as Jaap Kunst, Margaret Mead, Claire Holt, Clifford Geertz, and Colin McPhee, attention to the courtly arts and exotic rituals of this vast archipelago has been overshadowed in the 21 century by a concern with the political and social energy of the country’s prominent religion, Islam. More than just a recent influential and imposing force, the Islamic religion, as demonstrated by this new collection of case studies, provides a framework, a history, and a set of cultural practices that have been a source of both inspiration and limitation for the performing arts and expressive culture throughout the history and geography of Indonesia.

Despite its historical and social prominence, Islam as an aspect of Indonesian music culture is a subject that has been largely ignored in scholarly representations. Islam—with its historical traditions located in the Arabian Gulf, Andalusia, the Levant, and what used to be called Mesopotamia—has often been pictured as an intruder, a foreign late-comer, and something detrimental to “real” Indonesian culture, including music, which has often been posited, somewhat myopically, as consisting overwhelmingly of the gamelans (bronze gong-chime ensembles) of Java, Bali, and a few satellite islands. Despite their marginal status in most areas of the country, gamelans have become iconic for Indonesia in both the popular and scholarly imagination and have been objects of long-standing fascination among Western musicians, composers, and ethnomusicologists since . . .

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