Contesting the global: Global culture, hybridity, and strategic contestation of local-traditional cultures



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Introduction: reconsidering globalization and global culture

Is it possible to resist against globalization? It is impossible to use a single perspective to answer the question, since the contemporary conditions throughout the world shows various different responses toward globalization, whether accepting, resisting, or making negotiation by playing “in-between space”. Because of such conditions, globalization as a term has become the most debatable discourse—both in quality and quantity—which has given it a valorization in many scientific forums from which many academicians of various disciplines expand and explore their theoretical-conceptual frameworks into complicated understandings with different point of views, point of departures, and seminal-academic results. However, in common and popular tendency, many thinkers presume and analyze globalization through economic, political, and cultural/media strand.

In economic strand, globalization is exposed as huge capital flows from “the axis countries”—U.S., Japan, Germany, France, England, Canada, and, the latter, China—to the developed countries, or Third World, operated by transnational corporations (TNCs) and international institutions, such as WTO, IMF, and World Bank, from which homogeneous-economic system and practice characterized by neo-liberal perspectives emerge as international standard and create interconnection among the countries (Steger, 2006: 38-40). Many defenders of this view assume that economic globalization from which the developed countries will open their economic policies to the TNCs and “charity hands” of financial institutions to make their economic conditions grow faster and will reduce poverty effectively and, thus, gives benefits to them (Edwards, 2007: 262-263; Stallings, 2007: 214).

The world political system colored by neo-liberal consideration in employing governance in many different countries has been the hegemonic model as the effect of globalization in the political strand. Following such system, most of the states have re-operated their government practices, especially in the political economy, with the dominant concern on democratic system and capitalist/neo-liberal model from which economic progress and stability as the most significant standard will lead to social welfare controlled by the governments who become “the important collaborators” of TNCs and make them as “the active actors” in driving globalization (Kien, 2004: 473-477) and practicing techno-capitalism as a higher synthesis between the capitalist and the advance technology in the contemporary social structures which emphasizes on technology-dominant role and the more complicated capital relation in society. The government structures, then, is still being in the capital determinacy with focus on the capital production and accumulation and, as the result, the capitalist is still dominating production, distribution, and consumption process. Still, in political perspective, globalization also will reach “a new world order” characterized by the emergence of newer international cooperation among the countries with democratic orientation in the governance as the product of “democratizing globalization” and “globalizing democracy” that will be solution in recovering various problems experienced by each country (Gills, 2002: 164-171).

The next most complex issue on globalization comes from cultural/media standpoint. Along with the growth of globalization in economic and political sector, cultural developments in the countries are commonly assumed to be homogenized; most of the countries are now adapting and transforming the modern cultural-industrial products of the Western countries with its media corporations, especially American works with its Hollywood trendsetter, into their cultural products in national levels. In this context, “global culture”, or in different term can be called as “world culture” is contemporary condition of culture from which people around the world have similar tendency and preference in producing, distributing, and consuming cultural products which are much influenced by Western pattern that is giving more advantages to the media-capitalist and leads to cultural imperialism.

Cultural imperialism argues the one-way flow of media products and services from the advanced industrial countries to Third World nations undermined their cultures, morals and values. The proponents of the cultural imperialism thesis saw the imbalances in global cultural flows as an extension of structures of domination and subordination, which were already evident in the political and economic spheres. The central argument of the cultural imperialism thesis is that cultural domination of the West is established and reinforced through its increased dissemination through the mass media. Therefore, cultural conformity to dominant cultural forms and practices is created, which leads to the undermining, displacement and even disappearance of the indigenous cultures of receiving countries. Globalization is the degree to which cultures throughout the world are becoming similar. Such globalization is therefore seen as being co-extensive with the history of Western imperialism. In the cultural sphere, this globalization leads to the increasing hegemony of particular central cultures that bring all other cultures into their ambit through the diffusion of specific values, consumer goods and lifestyles (Banerjee, 2002: 519-520). 

In different tone, Holton states three theses about cultural consequences of globalization: homogenization, polarization, and hybridization (2002: 140-152). Standardization of the global culture around the Western or American pattern becomes central thesis of homogenization. While some evidences support this view, the presence of cultural alternatives and resistance to the Western norms suggest that polarization provides a more convincing picture of global culture development. Global interconnection and interdependence do not necessarily mean cultural conformity. Culture, it seems, is harder to standardize than economic organization and technology. The hybridization thesis argues that cultures borrow and incorporate elements from each other, created hybrid forms.

From the polarization and hybridization thesis, some thinkers explore newer perspective on the dynamic connections between Western-industrial cultures and local-indigenous cultures called as glocalization. Theorists of glocalization typically challenge the assumption that globalization processes always endanger the local. Rather, glocalization both highlights how local cultures may critically adapt or resist ‘global’ phenomena, and reveals the way in which the very creation of localities is a standard component of globalization. Glocalization trend emphasizes the creative capacity of local actors in national level to create heterogeneous cultural products which pay more attention on local cultures although most of them still follow and adapt the global-cultural structure. Further, Giulianotti and Robertson (2007: 134) state four kinds of glocalization: (1) relativization, from which social actors seek to preserve their prior cultural institutions, practices and meanings within a new environment, thereby reflecting a commitment to differentiation from the host culture; (2) accommodation, here social actors absorb pragmatically the practices, institutions and meanings associated with other societies, in order to maintain key elements of the prior local culture; (3) hybridization, here social actors synthesize local and other cultural phenomena to produce distinctive, hybrid cultural practices, institutions and meanings; and, (4) transformation, from which social actors come to favor the practices, institutions or meanings associated with other cultures and may procure fresh cultural forms or, more extremely, the abandonment of the local culture in favor of alternative and/or hegemonic cultural forms.

However, Sparks gives different opinion about the capacity of the local producers to resist globalization through glocal product because, in fact, many American industrial-cultural and media are still hegemonizing the worlds by “the pure-Hollywood products which are translated into the local-national language”, “the local products with Hollywood copy rights”, or the local products which follow the American patterns (2007: 145-147). Instead of making resistances to global culture hegemony, many cultural industrial and media products in national levels shows the glocalization which become strategic representation of capitalist media producers to negotiate imagined-metaphors of modern life which are mixed with some particular local problems, such as love, economic, and social struggles into city-ism by following the patterns of US-made programs. Television serials, films, and pop music convey in different patterns such tendency or, in Anderson’s words, cultural and media products in national level play strategic roles in creating imagined community which spread over the national context some dominant metropolitan orientations and practices into local daily life.

The various debates on globalization imply complicated conditions in the contemporary world society in responding to the two phenomena. Globalization with all its aspects emerges global culture which cannot be said, as explained by Appandurai (2001), as merely homogenization, but it also involves the application of a variety of instruments (armaments, advertising and marketing techniques, language hegemonies, clothing style, music, films, etc.) that are absorbed into local political and cultural economies, only to be repatriated as heterogeneous dialogues of national sovereignty, free enterprise, and fundamentalism in which the state plays an increasingly delicate role, although this repatriation or export of the designs and commodities of difference continuously exacerbates the internal politics of majoritarianism and homogenization, which is most frequently played out in debates over heritage.

However, most local communities around the world still have creative capacity in understanding and re-understanding the global and metropolitan influences and, by negotiating and stressing their own local cultures into their life styles, cultural practices and products, they emphasize on localization or New Localism. Schuerkens (2003: 218) xplains:

…many of the inflowing global-cultural elements are transformed during processes of integration and embedding in new local environments. They are interpreted in relation to local cultures and particular experiences of local populations. They are appropriated by local requirements and are filled with corresponding contents and functions….the periphery takes its time in reshaping that metropolitan culture which reaches there to its own specifications. But processes of local appropriation and transformation of cultural elements allow the emergence – due to the mixture of local and imported cultural elements – of something new and unique. The local clash of different cultural elements signifies a creation of new cultural forms, new lifestyles, and new representations. In a global perspective, this means a global cultural diversity: but diversity resulted from the present global cultural links, from the cultural appropriation of external elements by local populations and from the creative mixture of global elements with local meanings and cultural forms.

The explanation gives positive signs of local cultural empowerment in the global context, but there is no description about in what socio-cultural conditions and strategies, the local communities can have creative responds and ways to the global-cultural structures. The problem is important to discuss since not all local communities, for example in Indonesian case, have strong awareness in negotiating and actualizing their cultures. A part of them may accept the global cultural tendency and absorb into their cultures uncritically from which the global will be dominant and the local will be subordinate, while the other has strategic consideration in adapting the global into the local without loosing local-cultural identities.

This article will discuss critically the creative capacity of two local communities in East Java, Tengger and Using, in negotiating their local cultures in different context as strategic contestation to the global cultural influences. Tengger communities are Javanese people who live around Mountain Semeru and Bromo with demographic distribution in Malang, Pasuruan, Probolinggo, and Lumajang, and have practiced great tradition since the past until the recent time. While Using communities are hybrid-oriented-people who exist in Banyuwangi and have appreciated their unique cultures colored by the dominance of aesthetic and artistic products, such as local dances, dramas, and music. Employing “in-between space” perspective by Bhabha and “unstable hegemony” perspective by Gramsci, this article will explore: (1) socio-cultural conditions of the two communities, particularly in the issue of local wisdoms and cultural persistence and (2) strategic contestations of the two communities in responding and resisting the global cultural influences experienced in their daily life.

Deconstructing globalization in local reading: from “deconstruction” and “in-between space” to “unstable hegemony”

Thanks to Derrida who critically explores “deconstruction”, possibility in reading particular and dominant philosophical thought and social theory from which a distinctive perspective may emerge to break the fixity and rigid conception on them. For Derrida himself “deconstruction” is not reading practice which destructs all the structure and meaning of thought or theory as the main domain of structuralism, but emphasizing the detail analysis with gives possibilities to have “a free play” in the center of the structure itself since the coherence of the structure is contradicted each others.  This free play may allow critical reading colored by a “rupture”, “deference”, and “difference”—called as différance—toward “logocentrism” in the Western philosophy tendency from which openness will be possible and make the authority in the meaning and coherence structure is deconstructed; not by ‘power’ out of the structure, but by the contradiction among parts of the structure itself (Derrida, 1989: 231-247; Borradori, 2000: 1-22; Leledakis, 2000: 175-193; Saul, 2001: 1-120; Cilliers, 2005: 255-267).

Following Derridean deconstruction, globalization can be assumed as “an imagined structure” of global narrative in which many people, states, and cultures play interdependent relation each other colored by the existence of Western-hegemonic-deep structure around the world. Globalization produces the global culture as the core of many other structures in each country, which support a total process of structuring a coherent structure. Instead making fixity of the structure, the global culture is giving possibility to free play among each part of the structure for creating different forms and values, which are in specific context making various and newer cultures. This condition may be possible because many local people have their own power to play in-between space as creative strategy for the locals. Bhabha argues:

It is trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of beyond…The ‘beyond’ is neither a new horizon, nor leaving behind of the past…Beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; but…we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the ‘beyond’: an exploratory, restless movement…here and there, on all sides,…hither and thither, back and forth…These ‘in-between spaces’ provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood—singular or communal—that initiate new signs of identity, and innovate sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself. (1994: 1-2)

Living “in-between space” or “third space” emerges the interstices—the overlap and displacement of domains of differences—that the inter-subjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated. As the minority in the contexts of popularity of global-hegemonic culture, the locals articulate the differences from the minority perspective in a complex negotiation that seeks to authorize cultural hybridities that emerge in moments of historical transformation. The condition to signify from the periphery of authorized power and privilege does not depend on the persistence of tradition; it is resourced by the power of tradition to re-inscribe through the conditions of contingency and contradictoriness that attend upon the lives of the locals as ‘the minority’. The locals, then, constitutes otherwise than global culture. Such cultures of contra-globalization may be contingent to modernity, discontinuous or in contention with it, resistant to its oppressive, assimilationist technologies; but they also deploy the cultural hybridity of their borderline conditions to ‘translate’, and therefore re-inscribe, the social imaginary of global culture.

The global culture and its ruling blocs, then, cannot control efficiently those newer cultures from which stability of hegemony cannot totally persist. By adopting and mimicking the global pattern, the locals are playing continually their local traditions with the hybrid perspectives and practices; not by leaving all ancestors’ heritages, but by reconsidering and retransforming them into negotiable and adaptable structures in the modern-global vision with the main target to reemphasize them in the contemporary life. In this context, the global culture hegemony is delayed from which, in Gramscian term, there will be a condition called as “unstable hegemony”. Hegemony is power relation which is conducted by intellectual, moral, and cultural leadership, spread over through hegemonic institutions (religious, educational, legal and political, and cultural institution), and established by consensual agreement among people that is colored by continually negotiations and articulation (Gramsci, 1981: 191-192; Laclau and Mouffe, 1981: 226; Boggs, 1984: 16; Bennet, 1986: xv; Slack, 1997: 115). The terms “negotiation” and “articulation” imply hegemony as a process of being in which a leading and subordinate group will negotiate its needs each other. If this negotiation is successful, each group will articulate the needs of its opposite group from which a base for consensual agreement creates and leads to hegemonic relation in which the subordinate group will not assume guided by the leading one. The negotiation and articulation also give a chance to find unsatisfied attainments for the subordinate, in case the ruling class does not articulate enough the subordinate’s importance possible and this condition leads to “instability of hegemony”. In global-local relations, the unstable hegemony leads the local power to articulate their traditions as the dominant process to re-continual-hegemony people awareness and belief toward the importance of the local cultures in sustaining their life in modern-global traffics. However, there are some conditions need to be fulfilled which require local readiness and strategy, especially in contesting, not resisting frontally, the global culture; playing it in-between space that will make the local power and culture freely operate discursively and practically as consensual ideology and practice.

Tengger: crossover between global and local culture

From the ancient era until the recent time, as Javanese-mountainous people, Tengger people (hereafter TP in plural meaning) have been described as communities which still work out and sustain their ancestors’ traditions, whether in religious belief and rituals, local wisdoms, and cultural customs (Sutarto 2001; 2003a; 2003b; 2008). Although most of them nowadays practice Hindu as the main religion in Tengger communities, they still sustain Kasada, Unan-unan, Entas-entas, Karo, and other ancient religious rituals. In that context, TP place a unique position in a study of culture because in transformative era in which many Javanese communities lead to modern and Islamic cultures with a consequence leaving some parts or patterns of their traditional cultures and practicing some newer patterns, they still show a great appreciation toward their local wisdoms and rituals as “paugeran” (guidelines).

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However, economic progress as an implication of capitalist agriculture since the colonial era which has changed pattern of farming from subsistent to productive-commercial farmers until the recent time gradually transforms socio-cultural conditions in Tengger communities into more modern conditions. Hefner (1999: 187-264) notes, at least, three kinds of changes in Tosari (Pasuruan) as his research area: (1) the change of farming labor pattern; (2) the change of consumption culture; and (3) the change of understanding rituals related to social class and prestigious value. In contemporary labor pattern, TP prefer paying labors monthly or daily than using the past pattern, which emphasized relatives and familial cooperation. Consumption culture becomes an interesting issue because in the past era—before commercial farming—TP had less preference toward modern-industrial products, especially household utilities and transportation-communication tools. When money is easier to get, they start buying refrigerator, television, furniture, fashionable clothes, car, motorcycle, cellular phone, etc. TP now also allocate much money to show up their capacity and capability in succeeding traditional rituals; the larger money they use, the more prestigious position they get. The general inferences may be over interpretative and different perspective may be more applicable.

Popularity of modern-industrial products and their following effects, such as watching television in the evening after farming, is truly a sign of the global culture in Tengger context. TP really enjoy them for their daily activities, from productive to entertainment usages. In other words, the global culture is “ordinary business” from which TP find useful advantages without losing their traditions. Further, they understand the financial growth to continually support and establish some important traditional and religious rituals that will guide them into harmonious relationships with other TP, natural and supernatural surrounding, and gods. This process may happen because they are finding and playing in-between space as the third space to negotiate their traditional importance in modern-global atmosphere. They take and use some parts of the global culture and financial progress as merely supporting elements in existing their cultural identities, beliefs, and practices. Instead of reducing their local beliefs, the global culture and financial progress are becoming “may be-deconstructed-and-played- structure” for empowering the local power.

Such condition is a result of ideological crossover between the global culture and the local culture. As ideological crossover process, TP never reject and negate the power of the global culture into their life, but they also do not take all the power, only part of it, and articulate some beneficial patterns into their cultures (Setiawan, 2008a; 2008b). This partial articulation insists on strong commitment towards the local power which may be possible because TP do not only practice their religious and traditional culture as merely ritual performance but also as ideology that guides them in living all aspects of life. Ideology in this context is not over-deterministic concept as defined by Marx, but it is a frame of social cognition—shared over and conducted by members of social group, formed through relevant selections of socio-cultural values, and organized by ideological scheme which represents self-definition of the group—and having function as cognition to organize social representations (attitude and knowledge) of the group, and naturally being surveillance of social-cultural practices, texts, and daily conversations of the group (Althusser, 1971: 162-177; Hall, 1982: 71, 1997: 26; van Dijk: 1995: 284). For TP, all their contemporary activities and practices both in economic and socio-cultural domain are their strategic contestation as identity politics to strengthen and empower their cultural and religious roots, once again, without losing contact to the global culture phenomena. Some examples of that view are how they redefine their familial life and religious rituals in the context of global-economic culture that emphasize capital accumulation in all aspects of business, including agriculture.

Home and familial life are significant sites to see strategic understanding and contestation in Tengger context. When TP reach much money from vegetables farming, they rebuild their houses in more modern architecture, as they saw in city and television, and it makes woods-houses extinct. They also begin to buy many industrial products for their households’ equipments. Although modern house become popular, they still transform some ancient patterns of their houses’ design. For example, they still make “traditional firebox” in a middle room of the houses (a room between guestroom colored by modern furniture and cooking room) to serve guests who need warmer temperature while talk about some topics. Entertainment sets—television, VCD player, and radio—also become ordinary properties for Tengger’s houses. For Tengger people, televisions and VCD players are equipments to have relaxation with the families in their leisure time after having farming activities from 7.00 a.m. to 04.00 p.m. and they only spend 1 hour till 2 hours because their tired bodies cannot wait to long to sleep. Instead as a merely sign of change, the existence of modern properties signifies hybrid practices in which TP mimic some forms of modern-global culture in one side and in other side they actually realize a commitment to wisma (well enough house) as one of setya leksana (five commitments of husbands and wives in succeeding familial life). The commitment to wisma transforms time to time, following the dynamics of economic development, with the dominant accentuation on home function as the centre of better future orientation for Tengger couples in succeeding other setya leksana such as wareg (enough foods), waras (good health), wastra (enough clothes), and wasis (better knowledge). Other four commitments will be easier to accomplish if Tengger couples have enjoyable and nice houses for discussing strategies and ways.

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The continuity of ritual practices also proves strategic contestation of Tengger people in more modern-oriented life. Although in daily landscape, some aspects of modernity color Tengger regions, TP in particular sacred times still do religious rituals. Economic growth which transforms Tengger life into global-modern and capital orientation cannot directly uproot them from local-religious rituals because they still commit to setya budaya (a cultural loyalty) as one of socio-cultural ideology called as panca setya (five loyalties in socio-cultural life). At the tenth month of local calendar, Tengger people from four regencies celebrate Kasada as sacrifice rituals. From midnight, they altogether come to segara wedi (sand sea) as the only way to the top of Mount Bromo and bring some of their farming products and livestock as sacrificial approval to their ancestor spirits and gods. By doing so, they pray and hope for better life, both in economic and socio-cultural sense. In the past time, they went to Bromo on foot, passed through the dark fog and very cool temperature, while in the present time they use cars and motorcycles as the main transportation tools. Dhukun Pandhita (the coordinator of dhukun/ritual leaders) communicates and consolidates other dhukuns about some preparations to succeed the ritual by using cellular phone. The popularity of modern-industrial products, then, can be effective and efficient tools, which support much in succeeding the ritual in Tengger tradition.

Entas-entas as the most expensive ritual in Tengger traditions is also important to discuss in order to know how Tengger people redefine their cultural ideology in the context of global-economic culture. Entas-entas is the last ritual as the appreciation to a dead person before he/she comes to nirvana. In this ritual, unlike in Balinese tradition, TP, although most of them now practice Hindu as the major religion, do not practice ngaben (burning a dead body) and as symbol of the dead body, they burn Petra (a doll made from grasses). Commonly they spend much money in this ritual, from 30 millions rupiahs to 50 millions rupiahs for buying some cows, chickens, and other materials for foods to serve guests. They usually perform live entertainment, like as campursari (Javanese traditional-popular music) and tayub (Javanese traditional-popular musical dance) to make the guests and the host of the ritual more happily when they are left by the spirit of the dead body who will have a long journey to the top of Mount Bromo and Semeru through segara wedi as two transit zones before come to nirvana. For succeeding this ritual, commonly, many neighbors and relatives give their hands to the host family by working out some works; men usually have “front space works”, such as making decorative elements, preparing ritual equipments and the open stage, and preparing desks and chairs for the guests, while women are usually busy in preparing foods. They do all the works gratis as their social commitment. For the host, the expensiveness of the ritual does not become serious matter because they intentionally prepare it by working hard in faming and saving their money in some years. This seriousness depicts their strong commitment to the local traditions, not for prestigious orientation, because other people will blame them as cultural deviants who have no appreciation to their dead family member, especially their parents, if they do not conduct this ritual. If the ritual becomes expensive in the later years, the increasing prices of materials at the markets cause it. This makes capital accumulation as the global-economic culture is also popular in Tengger regions, but Tengger people have their own cultural mechanism to adapt and accommodate to this progress. In the past time, they might be not celebrate the ritual glamorously because economically they did not have enough money from corn farming as the ancient plant which needed 6 – 9 months to harvest, but in the recent, when vegetables farming give them much financial profits, they begin to transform the ritual into different practice. Implicitly, such condition deploys that they want to sustain their local tradition in more continually and newer context because their life are not the stagnant. If the nature and gods have provided natural and supernatural mechanism for their successful farming, reciprocally they should give back to them equal sacrificing ritual, so harmonious relationship between the human beings, natural surroundings, and gods always continues in the future.

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The above short descriptions are explanative examples about the strategic contestation by TP in sustaining their local traditions in the more global economic and modern culture color their recent life. Their abilities to have the dynamic negotiations of the local cultures emerge as ideological awareness that are shared through traditional-orally representations continually in ritual performances guided by dhukuns and active-collective teachings socialized by dhukuns or personal teachings guided by parents. In their ritual performances, all generational levels—from older to younger people and children, both men and women—involve actively and make them sharing similar cultural meaning as collective identity and, finally, being proud to their own local traditions. Dhukuns regularly give religious teachings to the young generation at Pura Desa (a village’s praying place) and come to elementary schools weekly to teach students about Tengger’s cultural heritages and the importance to make them survive. Mothers, on their cooking activities in the morning or evening talk to their children about some cultural codes or local wisdoms that are important to followed. These processes create cultural awareness normally through discursive practices and formations and lead to consensual agreement towards the operation of the local-cultural power.

TP, then, have identity politics to survive and sustain their local traditions; not by rejecting the global cultural power, but by playing in-between space which emphasizes a contesting ability to redefine the hegemony of the global culture and make mimicry that are causing hybrid daily life. At the same time, they make mockery that shows the weakness of the global cultural structure and power by surviving their own traditions. The hegemony of the global culture is deconstructed and contested though unique anti-hegemony discursively, not frontally, which recreates “always-newer hegemony” or re-continual hegemony guided by the local-traditional power. TP do not assume this “always-newer hegemony” as negative power distributed by the local-traditional leading class, such as dhukuns and village leaders, but TP believe it as strategic and ideological contestation in depending and continuing their local-traditional cultures in the future.

Using: industrializing local arts in hybrid forms  

For Using people (hereafter UP in plural meaning), living and playing in-between space have been common socio-cultural condition since the kingdom era until the recent time. The long history of political conflicts in competing authority between Blambangan and Majapahit, Bali and Mataram, and also Bali and Dutch government, have become historical traces and structured socio-cultural life which have been characterized by unique ideological choice. They are “neither being full Balinese nor Javanese”, “neither being full Islam nor Hindu”, or “neither being full European nor Chinese”, but “being full Using” (Using is derived from the word “sing”, in the local context means “not”). Those historical-political backgrounds and ideological choice imply the ability of UP to have adaptive, accommodative, and dynamic mind and creativity in their socio-cultural life which colored by syncretism (Sunarlan, 2008: 131-132). Syncretism as the dominant ideology and practice for UP causes hybrid forms of local-traditional cultures, including their local-traditional arts.

Nowadays some local-traditional arts have significant and dominant roles in characterizing Using culture as hybrid-oriented-culture. Many local artists perform continually gandrung (traditional musical dance), janger (traditional drama like as kethoprak in Yogyakarta), jaranan buto (traditional-giant horse dance), angklung caruk (percussion made from bamboo performed by two opposite groups in one stage), and hadrah kuntulan/kunduran (Islamic musical dance). Traditional hybridizing mixture between two or more traditional arts colors them all and produces Using’s local traditional arts. Gandrung, for example, is hybrid mixture that mimics from some parts of Balinese dynamic music, Javanese dance and customs, and Using lyrics and tones as performing songs. Hadrah kuntulan also has the similar formula. Although hadrah (Islamic percussion) becomes the main instrument in its performance, the artists still add Using instruments such as gamelan, kendang, and triangle. It also performs dynamic dance of women dancers. Hadrah kuntulan, then, function as negotiation of Using artists to Islamic culture that now become the major religious discourse and practice in Banyuwangi. All UP assume these unique collaborations as their own-local product.

In Using cultural horizon, there is also a local-industrial-popular music called as kendang kempul. This music is combination between kempul (one part of gamelan), kendang (traditional percussion), violin, guitar, keyboard, and triangle. Similar to gandrung’s rhythm, kendang kempul also has dynamic rhythm dominated by some topical songs, such as romantic story of men and women, social daily problems, and warm natural conditions. These songs and theirs tone are newer and easier version of gandrung songs that, for common people, have difficult tones and rhythm. As hybrid product, kendang kempul actually was a form of cultural response to the popularity of dang dut in 1970s. In 1980s, some Using artists began to record some kendang kempul albums in cassettes and sold them in Banyuwangi and other neighbor regencies, such as Jember, Bondowoso, Situbondo, Lumajang, and Probolinggo. Until now, kendang kempul still becomes popular Using music in these regencies and, even, in other regencies, such as Malang and Lamongan. In the case of kendang kempul, Using artists implicitly mimic two kinds of global cultural products: (1) modern music instruments and (2) modern cultural industries that orient to massive production and distribution. They always open their creative minds to newer strange cultural products distributed by major labels in Jakarta, such as dang dut, take some part of them, and then recreate them in more local sense, pattern, and form.

In the recent context, some younger artists begin to compose newer version of kendang kempul with different musical style. Similar to other regencies, the popularity of pop music from various genres, whether melancholic, rock, alternative rock, reggae, jazz, blues, etc., made in Jakarta or America, may produce pop generation who have much appreciation to modern entertainments and other cultural industrial products. Many musical groups from major labels in Jakarta, which usually mimic musical genre and pattern of Western groups, become favorite idols for the young generations in the local levels through their romantic lyrics and easy listening songs. Most of television and radio stations in Indonesia always promote new albums and new groups. Massive marketing and distribution process support the popularity of pop music in the local levels, including Banyuwangi. Pop music truly becomes hegemonic power that leads young generation by using easier musical concept and structure that articulate the young people’ desire in finding their self-identity. Some younger artists in Banyuwangi find such condition as a great challenge to local Using arts. Considering the popularity of pop music, they begin to create newer version of kendang kempul in modern sounds. One of the popular figures, Catur Arum creates a newer musical genre called as patrol opera Banyuwangi (POB), which combines some local-traditional instruments with some modern instruments. The local-traditional instruments are kenthongan (traditional percussion for patrol), gamelan, kempul, triangle, and angklung, while the modern instruments are guitar, bass guitar, cello, keyboard, drum, and conga. Arum with his group makes a popular debut album, made in local recording company in Banyuwangi, contains some romantic-melancholic songs that tell about love stories and social problems (Setiawan, 2008b).

This hybrid genre can gain popular acceptance and be a competitor of pop music made in Jakarta. In addition, the popularity of patrol opera in Banyuwangi and other regencies influence some new groups to release their albums. The albums commonly have both cassette and VCD format. In VCDs format, all clips with their visual stories are products of local creators. These clips become additional values that give impressive and interesting sense for consumers. Further implication of patrol opera’s popularity is recording process of some local-traditional arts, such as gandrung, janger, and jaranan buto and kendang kempul in VCD format. In other words, the development of patrol opera, kendang kempul, and local-traditional arts are following the global pattern of cultural industries.

The above descriptions imply two specific conditions experienced by UP in facing the hegemonic effect of the global culture. Firstly, they are playing in-between space and creating newer hybrid arts. Secondly, they are negotiating and articulating their unique arts in the global pattern of cultural industries. Instead negate the existence of the global culture in their communities and cultures, UP prefer to absorb, adopt, and mimic some parts of it consciously into theirs own. This contestation in artistic and aesthetic products emerges as survival strategy in resisting the hegemonic power of the global culture through the newer hybrid products that belong to cultural richness of UP. Some key concepts to sustain Using cultures in the transformative society are redefining, reconstructing, restructuring, reforming, and recreating cultures from which local cultures, both traditional and hybrid forms, can transform themselves continually although need some modifications. Industrialization of local cultures also plays important role in contesting the global tendencies of transnational cultural industries products and the popularity of national popular culture. The local creators and artists in Using communities find the significant role of cultural industries in persuading and guiding popular preference, so they adopt industrialization pattern, such massive production, marketing, and distribution. That process also becomes a sign of both a local cultural industries’ awakening that inspires the growth of local creative economy and a massive attempt to gain consensual agreement of OP about the importance of their local cultures as identity politics in the more transformative context.

The popularity of the local industrial products in Banyuwangi and other regencies implies an advantage of cultural hybridity as strategic contestation. This contestation is a kind of inward resistance towards the global and national popular culture without considering them as common dangerous enemy of the local cultures. It means that UP and Using artists are aware of some beneficiaries of the global and national popular culture and mimic these advantages into Using atmosphere. In this context, they articulate them, but at the same time, delay their hegemonic power. The industrialization of Using cultures, then, becomes strategic apparatus to create always-newer hegemony of the local cultures. In other words, UP and Using artists actually play hybrid process as their struggle; take the global to empower the local.

Conclusion: empowering the local with some conditions

I believe that the local-traditional cultures always have strategic role as the important weapon in ideological and cultural struggles in the global cultural context. Some radical movements in USA and Latin America use political and economic issues as the major theme to spread over the world about the danger of globalization (Seoane and Taddei, 2002). However, cultural resistance in Indonesia context has its own forms and patterns colored by two main ideological positions: (1) having a total resistance to all global cultural products and patterns and (2) having hybrid practices in articulating some parts of the global culture into the local cultures. The second position has two forms: (1) accepting and adapting the global-economic culture as important partner in sustaining the local cultures in the transformative society and (2) mixing the global cultural products and pattern with the local products as the main sources to make newer-hybrid cultural products. Baduy community in Cirebon shows the total resistance to the outer and global cultural influences by practicing their rituals and other local wisdoms continually and subsistent farming. Tengger communities practice the first form of the second position, while Using communities practice the second form of the second position. The first ideological position has its own advantage especially in the case of purification of the local cultures in all ages, although other people will assume their active participants as the primitives. This position also requires strict cultural codes that always tie their participants. While the second position will make the local cultures as the dynamic cultures that can survive in the modern-global atmosphere although some hybrid-cultural transformations may happen.

However, the ideological position of Tengger and Using communities may only establish continually in long periods if they always share collective discursive formations, practices, and representations of their cultural products and rituals as the strategic way to spread them as consensual ideology. The position of the local cultures as consensual ideology will make members of communities believe to and practice their cultural capacity and capability as identity politics in the transformative society. If the local people cannot believe their local cultures as the important and inherent parts of their life, the local cultures will be as merely formal and ritual performances without strategic function in contesting the global cultural hegemony. The local cultures only wait the time of their extinction and the local communities will be the discursive subjects who follow normally the global culture and knowledge as regime of truth in their daily life.


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About Ikwan Setiawan 126 Articles
Direktur Matatimoer Institute. Pengajar di Fakultas Ilmu Budaya, Universitas Jember. Anggota Dewan Pakar Dewan Kesenian Jember. Email:

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