What happens to “local” sound when globalization exposes musicians and audiences to cultural influences from around the world? Jeremy Wallach explores this question as it plays out in the eclectic, evolving world of Indonesian music after the fall of the repressive Soeharto regime. Against the backdrop of Indonesia’s chaotic and momentous transition to democracy, Wallach takes us to recording studios, music stores, concert venues, university campuses, video shoots, and urban neighborhoods.
Integrating ground-level ethnographic research with insights drawn from contemporary cultural theory, he shows that access to globally circulating music and technologies has neither extinguished nor homogenized local music-making in Indonesia. Instead, it has provided young Indonesians with creative possibilities for exploring their identity in a diverse nation undergoing dramatic changes in an increasingly interconnected world. Ultimately, he finds, the unofficial, multicultural nationalism of Indonesian popular music provides a viable alternative to the religious, ethnic, regional, and class-based extremism that continues to threaten unity and democracy in that country.