Current Institutional Affiliation
Author & Lecturer, Media & Film Studies, Macquarie University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Film Studies, New York University (NYU)
The Wild Child's Desire: Cinema, Sexual Politics, and the Experimental Nation

My dissertation is about the new generation of Indonesian filmmakers emerging after the downfall of the New Order dictatorship in 1998, looking at how they are produced by the post-authoritarian political transformation as new citizen subjects driven to perform political awareness in the public sphere. While embracing a cosmopolitan worldview and projecting their aspirations in the transnational landscape, the filmmakers actively invest in the process of remaking of the nation through their collective engagement within the advocacy against censorship. The centrality of sexuality issues in censorship connects the filmmakers to the larger national discourse of sexual politics. When the myth of national coherence dissolves, sexual politics is used by different actors, including the state and the Islamist groups, to assert new versions of nationhood. My dissertation investigates how the filmmakers’ desire for the nation in post-authoritarian Indonesia is articulated through sexual politics and analyzes how this desire is shaped and limited by the discourses of paternalism, transnationalism, and religion, within which other desiring national actors are implicated. I intend to examine how sexual politics is translated into political activism and artistic practices. While my involvement in the advocacy against the new film law has allowed me to observe the formation and circulation of ideas on nation, citizenship, secularism, and sexuality, the question of how sexual politics is translated into artistic production remains unanswered. I expect that my proposed fieldwork next year, focusing largely on the process of film production, will enable me to see the correlation, or perhaps contradiction, between sexual politics in art and in activism. I also seek to observe how aesthetic decisions are influenced by state censorship, transnational funding network, and anticipated reaction among Muslim conservatives.