SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Politics at Play: Indonesian Wayang Performance Practice and Heritage Politics

IMG - 20161004 - Sadiah Boonstra
Dr Sadiah Boonstra (Independent Researcher & Curator)

Date: 4 October 2016Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 4 October 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar


This talk discusses the politics of heritage formation and wayang performance practice in Indonesia. Current wayang heritage discourse roots in the colonial and postcolonial past, and shaped rather static official standards for that not always reflect popular wayang performance practice. This talk briefly discusses the history of wayang’s heritage formation, and presents the strategies that three superstar dalang [puppeteers] apply in dealing with the politically imbued heritage discourse of wayang. Their approaches range from applying standards codified in art academies and official heritage discourse by Ki Purbo Asmoro, to the commercial performance practice of Ki Manteb Soedarsono, who has become the standard for official heritage discourse as well as for popular wayang shows. Ki Enthus Susmono successfully – albeit controversially - combines radical innovations, such as a new wayang genre Wayang Santri that merges Islamic chants with sexual allusions and rude language. Curiously, Enthus Susmono was elected regent of his home province Tegal in 2014, exemplary of the intertwining of culture and politics.


Loading the player...

Politics at Play: Indonesian Wayang Performance Practice and Heritage Politics

Speaker Biography

Dr Sadiah Boonstra is trained as an historian and curator. She obtained her PhD in History from VU University Amsterdam in 2014. Her research focused on the concept of intangible heritage, and more specifically on dynamics of heritage formation and performance practices of the wayang puppet theatre in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia. Boonstra contributed to the exhibition ‘Shadow puppet theatre from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand’ currently on show at the British Museum. She previously curated exhibitions for Erasmus Huis/National Gallery in Jakarta, Indonesia, Municipal Gallery in Thessaloniki, Greece, Tropenmuseum and NiNsee in Amsterdam, and the National Prison Museum in the Netherlands. In 2013 Boonstra was a fellow at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University, New York.

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4892