This research explores processes through which changing economic and social conditions in Indonesia come to be embodied in new social and bodily forms and practices. It seeks to apply to actual case material particular perspectives from my own and others work on social emotion and social theory in the analysis of new forms of subjectivity and action in contemporary Java. Field work was focused on a range of differing local social and cultural productions and their transformations, with the aim of capturing the predicament of local subjects, as well as helping to reveal how new subjectivities and forms of action emerge in these changing social and economic contexts. Aside from my own fieldwork, the project draws on the work of a range of other scholars of contemporary Indonesia.
The project as a whole explores what is heuristically designated as two intertwined ‘forms' or domains of embodied action. The first of these involves ‘interiorized', or self-focused dimensions of experience and expression. These are explored primarily through the examination the current indigenous discourse on stress, and changing bodily practices including the explosion in usage of a whole range of modern pharmaceuticals, tonics, new forms of herbals and other mixtures, and their relationship to changing social and work practices. In this process, I also look at changing articulations and expressions of particular social emotions in reference to shifting social-structural formations, for example, those that cluster around concepts of resentment and envy, solidarity and trust. The second domain involves ‘exteriorized' or ‘externally oriented' forms of embodied action. This entails the examination of changing group formations and new forms of participatory social action, for example, new arenas of ‘moral' and religious action, the expansion of militia groups and other types of highly localized political or quasi-political formations.