Shadow Play: Information Politics in Urban Indonesia
Published: October 2021© 2021
320 Pages, 6.25 x 9.25 x 0.95 in, 12 b&w illustrations
Focusing on government-organized relocations of street vendors in Indonesia, Shadow Play carefully exposes the reasons why conflicts over urban planning are fought through information politics.
Anthropologist Sheri Lynn Gibbings shows that information politics are the principal avenues through which the municipal government of Yogyakarta city seeks to implement its urban projects. Information politics are also the primary means through which street vendors, activists, and NGOs can challenge these plans. Through extensive interviews and lengthy participant observation in Yogyakarta, Gibbings shows that both state and non-state actors engage in transparency, rumours, conspiracies, and surveillance practices.
Gibbings reveals that these entangled information practices create suspicion and fear, form new solidarities, and dissolve relationships. Shadow Play is a compelling study explaining how we cannot understand urban projects in post-Suharto Indonesia and the resistance to them without first understanding the complexities embedded in the information practices.
2. The Politics of Containment
3. Dialogue, Documents, and Distrust
4. Democratizing Surveillance
5. Press Releases and Silent Critiques
6. The Talk of Violence
7. Coinspiratorial Knowledge, Allah, and State Power
8. Agents and Brothers
9. Marketplace Relations
List of Protagonists
Glossary of Indonesian Terms and Abbreviations
"Shadow Play is a rich guide to comprehending the multiple and layered meanings of street politics in the city of Yogyakarta. Sheri Gibbings captures the complexities of what used to be a relatively simple task: relocating street vendors to a marketplace. She shows with critical verve how and why such a task has become so much more difficult today, and so much more invested with political and cultural meaning. Underlying her intriguing analysis is a theoretically consequential reflection on the cultural politics of information in Indonesia."Abidin Kusno, Professor of Environmental and Urban Change and Director of York Centre for Asian Research, York University
"Sheri Gibbings’s account of secrecy in state-society relationships reveals how the long history of secrecy in Indonesian politics is still playing out in the post-authoritarian era. More importantly perhaps, her work provides a rich account of how the state is the most secretive institution of all. There is powerful anthropological literature on this increasingly relevant topic, but none is as well-grounded as Shadow Play. There’s no other book like it."Robbie Peters, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Sydney
"Through compelling ethnographic vignettes and incisive analysis, Shadow Play offers a distinctive and fresh perspective on the complexity of information politics surrounding an infrastructure project. Sheri Gibbings’s impressive narratives of the experiences of the actors involved in the relocation project provide not only a rich and more complete picture of urban politics in a post-authoritarian city but also in-depth insights into the intersection between information practices and state-society relationships."Merlyna Lim, Canada Research Chair in Digital Media and Global Network Society, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University