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Methods of Desire

Language, Morality, and Affect in Neoliberal Indonesia

Aurora Donzelli (author)

ISBN: 9780824878290

Publication Date: Aug 2019

Format: Hardback

Also available as: Paperback  

Building on almost two decades of fieldwork, Aurora Donzelli describes how the growing influence of transnational lending agencies is transforming the ways in which people desire and voice their expectations, intentions, and entitlements within the emergent participatory democracy and restructuring of Indonesia's political economy.
£68.50

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Since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, Indonesia has undergone a radical program of administrative decentralization and neoliberal reforms. In Methods of Desire, author Aurora Donzelli explores these changes through an innovative perspective–one that locates the production of neoliberalism in novel patterns of language use and new styles of affect display. Building on almost two decades of fieldwork, Donzelli describes how the growing influence of transnational lending agencies is transforming the ways in which people desire and voice their expectations, intentions, and entitlements within the emergent participatory democracy and restructuring of Indonesia's political economy. She argues that a largely overlooked aspect of the Era Reformasi concerns the transition from a moral regime centered on the expectation that desires should remain hidden to a new emphasis on the public expression of individuals' aspirations.

The book examines how the large-scale institutional transformations that followed the collapse of the Suharto regime have impacted people's lives and imaginations in the relatively remote and primarily rural Toraja highlands of Sulawesi. A novel concept of the individual as a bundle of audible and measurable desires has emerged, one that contrasts with the deep-rooted reticence toward the expression of personal preferences. The spreading of foreign discursive genres such as customer satisfaction surveys, training sessions, electoral mission statements, and fundraising auctions, and the diffusion of new textual artifacts such as checklists, flowcharts, and workflow diagrams are producing forms of citizenship, political participation, and moral agency that contrast with the longstanding epistemologies of secrecy typical of local styles of knowledge and power. Donzelli's long-term ethnographic study examines how these foreign protocols are being received, absorbed, and readapted in a peripheral community of the Indonesian archipelago.

Combining a telescopic perspective on our contemporary moment with a microscopic analysis of conversational practices, the author argues that the managerial forms of political rationality and the entrepreneurial morality underwriting neoliberal apparatuses proliferate through the working of small cogs, that is, acts of speech. By examining these concrete communicative exchanges, she sheds light on both the coherence and inconsistency underlying the worldwide diffusion of market logic to all domains of life.
Illustrations 10 black & white illustrations, 2 maps
Pages 248
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Aug 2019
Publisher University of Hawai'i Press
Subject/s Sociolinguistics   Social & cultural anthropology   International relations   Political ideologies  
Aurora Donzelli is associate professor of anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, New York.

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