Bethany Collier: “Merchant, Clown, or Princess?: The Chinese in Contemporary Balinese Performance” – April 5, 2011

The island of Bali in Indonesia is renowned for its elaborate religious ceremonies and vibrant artistic life. While various “foreign” influences on Balinese arts have long been lauded, a complex, troubling history has prohibited a focus on the presence of Chinese elements in the arts. Drastic changes in the Indonesian political landscape, however, now allow for greater freedom of expression for ethnic Chinese, and also enable artists and cultural critics to engage openly with Chinese-influenced elements in regional cultures. By viewing how some Balinese artists have responded to this opportunity, my talk explores the impact of local and national ideologies on performed representations of ethnicity, cultural exchange, and identity in contemporary Indonesia.

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