Pipit Rochijat’s Subversive Mythologies

Asian Folklore Studies, Volume 65, 2006: 21–44

The Suharto Era and Beyond

AsianFolkloreThis article examines Indonesian émigré Pipit Rochijat’s attempts to adapt and renew the tales of the traditional shadow theatre, the wayang. The significance of Pipit’s subversive mythologies lies in the historical context in which these reinterpretations occurred: at the height of Suharto’s New Order regime in the mid 1980s. At a time when censorship and self-censorship had virtually crippled the critical impulse of Indonesian cultural expression, the return to mythology was in a significant sense an attempt to evade, critique, and undermine the authorities. By appropriating the very same symbols and language in which the New Order authoritarian regime had manipulated so effectively, Indonesian dissidents such as Pipit discovered the perfect symbolic weapon with which to radicalize their opposition.

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