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Articles on Sport in Indonesia

Articles on Sport in Indonesia

I am beginning to do some reading on sport in Indonesia. I am starting to compile a preliminary bibliography. The list is given in the order of reading or finding the articles.

A Starting List

Freek Colombijn (2000), “The Politics of Indonesian Football”, Archipel, Volume 59, pp.171-200.

Colombijn argues that football in Indonesia is marked by continuity, that it also reflects social changes and that football is subjected to political contestation. He argues that football is able to tell the story of Indonesia’s ‘integration, nationalism and modernisation’. This is frequently cited as being the most important article on sport in Indonesia. Indeed, as the author states, it is the first on sport and football in Indonesia.

Colin Brown (2008), “Sport, modernity and nation building: The Indonesian National Games of 1951 and 1953”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde,Vol.164, No.4, pp.431-449.

The spread of sports is often directly linked to the experience of colonialism. And thus we see cricket burgeoning throughout countries which were British colonies. As with the few other articles on sport in Indonesia, this article also relates sport to the imagined community of Indonesia. Brown quotes Cronin and Myall (1998: 2) who write that ‘sport cannot win territory or destroy an opposing ideology or religion which the nation seeks to demonize. It can only support the construction of a nation which has been imagined’. Sport is a part of the modernizing process for it places an emphasis on individual identity as separate from the social group from which they come (De Wachter, 2001: 92).

Brown’s article relies on the ‘memorial books’ published for the 1951 and 1953 National Games held in Indonesia in Jakarta and Medan respectively. The author quotes Soekarno and Hatta’s welcome speeches in which they both outline their ideas regarding how sport can be used in the process of Indonesian nation building. For Soekarno, sport provided access to the masses. Hattta argues that ‘[the] sporting spirit must give life to our developing democracy and to the achievement of social justice’. (Bown 2008, p.435).

Colin Brown (2006), “Playing the Game: Ethnicity and Politics in Indonesian Badminton”, Indonesia, No.81 (April), pp.71-93.

These articles on sport in Indonesia are reminiscent of writing on Indonesian literature. That is, the object of study is seen largely in its relation to the state and the imagining of the national community. Modern Indonesian literature has largely been seen as a product of the Dutch establishment of publishing houses such as Balai Pustaka, but this was subverted through showing the prominence of the Chinese-Malay press and short fiction that was prominent during the late 1890s early 1900s. Brown here, similarly shows that badminton, rather than being a Dutch/colonial sport, came to Indonesia via Chinese social clubs in Sumatra (I’m thinking Medan in particular) and contacts the members had with badminton as played in Malaysia.

Badminton in Indonesia has existed outside of the colonial realm; playing badminton wasn’t a confrontational act against the colonial authorities. Badminton wasn’t a part of the building of nationalism, apparently. This article shows how Chinese Indonesians who were successful at representing Indonesia in international competitions faced difficulties obtaining the necessary bureaucratic documents which stated that they were Indonesian citizens. Brown cites the case of the Sydney Olympics silver-medalist, Hendrawan, who hadn’t been able to obtain a ‘citizenship certificate’ (Brown 2006, p.85). His conclusion: ‘even as they [Chinese Indonesian badminton players] were contributing to a sense of Indonesian national identity, ethnic Chinese players were being excluded from citizenship or marginalised in other ways by the nation’ (Brown 2006, p.93).

Sarah Moser (2010), “Creating citizens through play: the role of leisure in Indonesian nation-building”, Social and Cultural Geography, Vol.11, No.1, pp.53-73.

I particularly enjoyed this article. This article looks at amateur sport as played in Pulau Penyengat, in Riau province. Moser looks at three sports: volleyball, takro and gerak jalan, or marching. These are idiosyncratic choices, but, they are based on the sports that are popular on the island. The sports have been endorsed by the national government; these sports are part of the ‘imagined community’ project of the Indonesian nation – Anderson again. Moser shows that those who live outside of the modern way of life, working office hours, have been largely excluded from the modern (team) sports such as volleyball. For others, takro is a traditional game that should not be subject to modernisation through turning it into a formalised team sport. Gerak jalan, a ‘sport’ introduced by the Japanese, is, despite its seemingly strict rules and guidelines has been subject to modification and play through the different ways in which the participants can subvert the sports formality of clothes, style, points of reference. People do gerak jalan to show themselves in a different way to other members of the community. Moser concludes in the following manner: ‘because leisure activities are experienced as fun and voluntary, they mask and naturalize the state’s ideological agenda more effectively than other more formal displays of nationalism’ (Moser 2010, p.69).



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