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Lakon: Tropes and performances in Javanese youth culture

Lette, Helen Margaret (1996) Lakon: Tropes and performances in Javanese youth culture. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis uses ethnographic research and interrogation of a number of discourses and tropes to examine the street-side performances of a group of young male kampung-dwellers in a part of urban Yogyakarta I call Kusuman. These young men, who refer to their group as the cah-cah (lads) are located between the socially defined roles of uncircumcised children and married heads of households, and have an ambiguous status in their communities. Among other lads in the same liminal phase they act out a series of personas in an attempt to construct meaningful identities. Their performances are re-iterations or re-interpretations of tropes to which they are exposed. The Javaneseness of wayang, elaborate politeness codes and stratified language, the Indonesianness of Pancasila, mutual help and military parades, and a Javanised mystical version of Islam form a background to their knowledge of self and society. These idioms also offer scope for playing out resistant readings, through reversal and caricature, as do the mystical martial-arts comics they devour and the trickster heroes of their folk mythology. Tourism is a major cultural and economic influence on Kusuman, and their repertoire of tropes is expanded by the performances of the "wild guides", English-speaking opportunists who seek sex, money and to "change their thinking with a western woman" among the many tourists passing through Kusuman.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Stange, Paul and Warren, Carol
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