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That ‘70s Area Studies: Indonesia and the Sociological Imagination - Sponosred by the Indonesia and Timor Leste Studies Committee (ITLSC)

Sat, April 2, 10:45am to 12:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, Floor: 2nd Floor, Room 206

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Every so often a city, a country or a region becomes the ground for the production of truly innovative ideas, giving rise to ways of thinking that have the capacity to put a kink into our worldview. This panel focuses on one example of this: Indonesia in the sixties and seventies. In these two decades, Indonesian studies attracted and produced a set of scholars whose work was notable for its rich imaginativeness, its novel sense of problem, and its openness to alterity. These included such ‘greats’ as Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, Clifford Geertz, Benedict Anderson, James Fox, Frederik Barth, Daniel Lev, Hildred Geertz and James Siegel. This panel investigates these scholars’ work from this period, examining its impact on subsequent scholarship, and assessing its relevance for area studies today. At the same time, the panel seeks to understand and delineate the set of factors that constituted the milieu out of which this work arose. What was it about Indonesia in this era that made it fertile ground for what C. Wright Mills (1959) called “the sociological imagination”? By meditating on this intellectual past, we seek to open windows into our future, awaken our imagination, and create new possibilities for thinking about our ever changing global cultural, economic and political context.

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