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‘Nevermind the jahiliyyah, here’s the hijrahs’: Punk and the religious turn in the contemporary Indonesian underground scene

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Like the country itself, the Indonesian punk/underground scene is rich with the diversity of its members. It was once known for its radical Left activism against the authoritarian state of the New Order (1966–98) in the late 1990s, but following political change in 1998 and the subsequent period of Reformasi, the image of the Indonesian punk/underground scene has gone through a shift. Its intersection with religious conservatism following the fall of the New Order creates a perception that Indonesian punk has become susceptible to what some people call ‘Islamic fundamentalism’. This is reinforced by the emergence of religious underground collectives and hijrah groups that work on Islamic proselytization in the scene. This article examines the state of the Indonesian punk/underground scene following the decline of punk’s Left activism, the expansion of neo-liberal capitalism, and the rise of religious conservatism in post-authoritarian Indonesia. This article suggests that the birth of religious underground collectives and hijrah groups within the underground music scene is a result of the absence of a coherent political Left within the subculture and the high financial and social cost of maintaining underground culture and ideology.
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Keywords: Indonesia; Islam; demoralization; hijrah; punk; religion; underground

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Murdoch University and Padjadjaran University

Publication date: June 1, 2017

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  • Punk & Post-Punk is a journal for academics, artists, journalists and the wider cultural industries. Placing punk and its progeny at the heart of inter-disciplinary investigation, it is the first forum of its kind to explore this rich and influential topic in both historical and critical theoretical terms.
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