Local/global disruption
: the response of the Samin Movement to modernity

  • Musa Maliki

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    The Samin Javanese ethnic identity is in an ongoing process of transformation, negotiation, and reinterpretation of meaning, and draws sustaining energies from its dynamic, fluid, and ambiguous connections with modernity. Historical theorists, social theorists, and anthropologists have tended to reduce the Saminists by placing them in a specific theoretical framework of Western discourse, which, once rationally argued for and logically justified (within the framework of Western academic discourse), is taken for granted. Yet no study has focused specifically on the constructed social formation of the Samin Javanese ethnic identity in political and cultural dimensions, relating these to modernity from the colonial period (1800) through to the post-authoritarian (2018) period.

    The Saminists are most often mentioned alongside Javanese cults (Kejawen), Javanese Islam (Abangan), and recently, the anti-cement movement as a distinct and independent cultural unit of analysis. I saw an opportunity to utilize Eisenstadt’s concept of multiple modernities, Barth’s term of ethnicity, Bhabha’s concept of hybridity to better understand the dynamic complex relations between the Samin community and modernity. Based on this idea, I suggest that the Saminists’ interaction with modernity should be perceived as a narrative to avoid an essentialist analysis. The concept of multiple modernities is applied to show that, although in a particular period they were often opposed to the Western identity (and modern identity), the Samin were distinctively modern in terms of their own narrative. The Saminists have multiple identities and their hybrid traditions are connected to Javanese, Islam, mystical, and modern forms of identity. They forge a complex contemporary situational identity that draws on tensions with and ambiguities about modernity. As a result, some Saminists resist modernity, represented by the Indonesian government and corporations, but cooperate with modern institutions such as non-government organizations (NGOs). Some others cooperate with the Indonesian government and NGOs, and still others are in an ambivalent relationship with these entities. In short, the Samin community has many layers of identity.

    Discourse analysis is applied to review the studies of previous researchers who constructed the Samin community based on their judgment and theoretical framework using historical facts and colonial documents. Discourse analysis is also important to view how non-Saminists construct the Saminists when dealing with current issues. Moreover, ethnomethodological fieldwork has enabled me to engage in the everyday lifeworld where the Samin community, as participants, and the researcher, as co-participant, constructed nuanced understandings of becoming Saminists and their meanings in the context of multiple modernities.
    Date of AwardMar 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorWayne Cristaudo (Supervisor), Dennis Shoesmith (Supervisor) & Steven Farram (Supervisor)

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