Event — IIAS Conversation Sessions

The Rise of Cinematic Santri in Post Authoritarian Indonesia: Figure, Field, and the Competing Discourse

A conversation with Ahmad Nuril Huda based on his PhD dissertation The Cinematic Santri: Youth Culture, Tradition and Technology in Muslim Indonesia.

This lecture takes place in the IIAS conference room from 15:00-16:30 Amsterdam Time (CEST); it will not be streamed or recorded. Everyone is welcome to attend. However, we kindly ask you to register as seating is limited.

The conversation

The past decade has witnessed the rise of cinematic practices among young pious Muslims affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest traditionalist Muslim group in Indonesia. These Muslims, popularly called santri, acquire religious training at Islamic boarding schools (pesantren), adhering to a relatively orthodox version of Islam. Partly because of the illicit association that grows around cinema, they have avoided film and cinema-going practices. However, in the aftermath of a 2008 box-office Islamic film release, which happened to be associated with the country’s modernist and Islamist groups, many santri began to develop their own cinematic practices and discourses. Their cinematic turn does not only challenge the stereotype about the incompatibility between Islam and cinema but also complicate the roles image-making practices could play in the enunciation of Muslim visibility in public space.

The discussion aims at unravelling the social actors, the fields of cultural production, and the competing discourse that are central to this rise. It will particularly address questions about who are the main actors behind their turn to cinema, what makes the NU people come to the film arena, what is their film discourse, how do they position themselves within the 'map' of Indonesian (Islamic) cinema, and how does their turn to cinema relate to the politics of articulation of ideological differences in Indonesian Muslim public spaces. Arguments developed from the lecture offer an insight into the relationship between image-making practices and the politics of representation in post-Suharto Indonesia. 

The programme

15:00 – Welcome

Ca. 15:02 – 15:50: Talk by Dr Ahmad Nuril Huda, followed by a conversation on the topic between Dr Ahmad Nuril Huda and IIAS fellow Aryo Danusiri. Participants are actively encouraged to engage in the conversation.

Ca. 15:50 – Q&A

16:30 – Closing  

The speaker

Ahmad Nuril Huda works as a researcher at the Center for Area Studies, Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN). He received his PhD degree from the Institute of Cultural Anthropology at Leiden University (2020). His research interest focuses on the entanglement between religion, new media technology, and the politics of (in)visibility among young and pious Muslims in Southeast Asia. Example of his publication includes Santri, Cinema and the Exploratory Form of Authority in Traditionalist Muslim Indonesia (2020).

The conversation partner

IIAS fellow Aryo Danusiri is a technological anthropologist. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology with Secondary Field in Critical Media Practice from Harvard University. Danusiri teaches at the University of Indonesia, where he conducted courses on Anthropological Theories, Technology and the Public, Political Anthropology, among others. He is also an adjunct senior researcher at BRIN (National Research and Innovation Agency). His research projects revolve around activism and its technologies that interrogate the subjectivities of conservative and progressive actors. His projects have been supported by various international institutions, including Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Fulbright, and Wenner-Gren Foundation.