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Complex Centers and Powerful Peripheries: Catholicism, Music, and Identity Politics in Indonesia

Rook, Emilie R. (2020) Complex Centers and Powerful Peripheries: Catholicism, Music, and Identity Politics in Indonesia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation interrogates issues of piety, power, and politics through music in the Roman Catholic Church in multi-lingual, multi-ethnic Indonesia. This study implicates the power of institutions (the State and the Church), people (musicians, liturgical leaders, and congregants alike), and materials (hymnbooks, liturgical pamphlets, and other related media). My aim is to ethnographically re-center music produced by and for Catholic communities as a corrective to complicated and often troubling histories of center-periphery dynamics in religious, economic, musical, and political studies in Indonesia. Musical materials—such as the Madah Bakti hymnal, produced by the Pusat Musik Liturgi (PML) Center for Liturgical Music in Yogyakarta, Indonesia—have become key sites for communicating different visions of Indonesian Catholic identity and religious experience. Moving beyond a project that simply recounts historical and ethnographic narratives of Catholics in Indonesia, I ask: In what ways does the production, circulation, and consumption of music for Catholic communities shape the religious identities and experiences of Catholics in Indonesia? How do Catholics in Indonesia use music to express their minority identity and desire for representation and justice, in a nation where religious pluralism is included in official state discourse but increasingly occluded in daily social practice? And finally, who gets to musically control the discourse, practice, and meaning of Catholicism in Indonesia, and how is that power at times subverted? Focusing on the experience of Catholic communities on the islands of Java, Flores, and North Sumatra, this project will simultaneously work to ethnographically re-center traditional center-periphery power models, acknowledging that communities in peripheral islands have agentive power which makes them centers in certain ideological schema. Ultimately, this work ultimately transcends the particularities of music made by and for Catholics in Indonesia, showing how musical materials and the practices which surround them can be used to assert minority religious identity while at the same time speaking to the complex national and global histories which inform such power-filled artistic practices.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rook, Emilie R.erc75@pitt.eduerc75
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeintraub,
Committee MemberAyyagari,
Committee MemberBamyeh,
Committee MemberBloechl,
Date: 8 June 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 24 March 2020
Approval Date: 8 June 2020
Submission Date: 9 April 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 393
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Music; Religion; Catholicism; Power; Indonesia; Southeast Asia; Identity
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 16:55
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2020 16:55


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