Shadows of Empire: Colonial Discourse and Javanese Tales
Shadows of Empire explores Javanese shadow theater as a staging area for negotiations between colonial power and indigenous traditions. Charting the shifting boundaries between myth and history in Javanese Mahabharata and Ramayana tales, Laurie J. Sears reveals what happens when these stories move from village performances and palace manuscripts into colonial texts and nationalist journals and, most recently, comic books and novels. Historical, anthropological, and literary in its method and insight, this work offers a dramatic reassessment of both Javanese literary/theatrical production and Dutch scholarship on Southeast Asia.
Though Javanese shadow theater (wayang) has existed for hundreds of years, our knowledge of its history, performance practice, and role in Javanese society only begins with Dutch documentation and interpretation in the nineteenth century. Analyzing the Mahabharata and Ramayana tales in relation to court poetry, Islamic faith, Dutch scholarship, and nationalist journals, Sears shows how the shadow theater as we know it today must be understood as a hybrid of Javanese and Dutch ideas and interests, inseparable from a particular colonial moment. In doing so, she contributes to a re–envisioning of European histories that acknowledges the influence of Asian, African, and New World cultures on European thought—and to a rewriting of colonial and postcolonial Javanese histories that questions the boundaries and content of history and story, myth and allegory, colonialism and culture.
Shadows of Empire will appeal not only to specialists in Javanese culture and historians of Indonesia, but also to a wide range of scholars in the areas of performance and literature, anthropology, Southeast Asian studies, and postcolonial studies.
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Academy Allegories Arjuna audiences branch stories Bratayuda carangan Central Java chapter characters Colonial Discourse comic books dhalang discussion Dutch Dutch scholars Dutch-educated elites European gamelan Hazeu Hinloopen ideas Indian Indies Indonesian Islam Jakarta Javanese culture Javanese history Javanese language Javanese Literature Javanese poetry Javanese shadow theatre Javanist kingdom Korawa Kosasih Kraton Kresna lakon macapat Mahabharata Mahabharata and Ramayana Mahabharata stories mances Mangkunagara vn Manteb myth nationalist nese nineteenth century Old Javanese older oral padat pakem Pandhawa Performance Domains performance traditions Pigeaud political postcolonial Pustaka Raja Purwa Rahwana Ramayana Ramayana and Mahabharata Ranggawarsita Sanskrit sastrajendra Sastramiruda scholarly Semar Serat Kandha shadow play shadow play performances shadow puppet shadow theatre tradition Shadows of Empire Soekarno Soemanto's Soetatmo Solo Solonese style Sukesi Surakarta tellings Theosophical tions Tjipto translation trunk stories twentieth century village puppeteers wayang kulit wayang performances wayang purwa wayang stories wayang theatre wayang tradition Wisrawa written texts Yasadipura Yogyakarta