Seminar by Professor Sumarsam| ‘Java-Islam-global encounters in wayang and religious propagation’
29/06/2016 @ 15:30 - 17:00
Java’s long process of Islamization has given rise to rich variations in the content and context of the performing arts through the “mixing and matching” of Islam with Java-Hindu ritual contexts, stories in wayang puppet theatre, and musical practices. The recently-emerged radical wahabi movement and the localized incorporation of Western-influenced, global cultural trends has questioned this mix-matched, hybridized forms of cultural expression. Yet, Java continues to have many thriving artistic traditions. In some cases, long-forgotten regional performing arts connected with the creation of Islamic saints (wali) have been revived, marking a Java-Islam cultural distinction. In a similar vein, certain ulama incorporate wayang puppet plays in their preaching, presenting an Islamic interpretation of Java-Hindu stories. I will discuss this development in terms of the hybridized forms and transreligion/ transculturalisms inherent in Javanese Islamic cultural expression.
Sumarsam (Professor of Music, Wesleyan University) has played Javanese gamelan since childhood. He is also a keen amateur dhalang (puppeteer) of wayang puppet play. His research focuses on the history, theory, and performance practice of gamelan and wayang, and on Indonesia-Western encounter theme and more recently on the intersections between religion and performing arts.