Harmony is beautiful: a reappraisal of the aestheticisation of politics in 'Beautiful Indonesia' miniature park

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Abstract

In this paper I reflect on the general nation-building project entailed in one of the most compelling and better-studied cases of political imagineering: Jakarta's ‘Beautiful Indonesia’ Miniature Park (Taman Mini ‘Indonesia Indah’). Conceived and driven by Indonesia's second president, Suharto, and his wife Ibu Tien in the early 1970s, this park was meant to visualise and construct the then-emerging Indonesian cultural and moral ethos in an ambiguous opposition to Soviet monumental Jakarta. By contrasting these two political spaces and exploring the vernacular concepts of beauty (keindahan) and harmony (kerukunan), I focus on the park's aesthetic dimensions and on the ways in which these dimensions articulate with the projection of a particular kind of moral nation. The account of my first visit to the park—and the country—as a graduate student and a participant of an Indonesian governmental programme of ‘cultural diplomacy’ provides first-hand material to set the stage for my analysis of the park in the post-Suharto era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-370
Number of pages19
JournalThe Asia Pacific journal of anthropology
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Nationalism
  • Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
  • Suharto
  • New Order
  • Political Aestheticisation
  • kerukunan
  • keindahan

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