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Hughes-Freeland, Felicia (1986) The search for sense : Dance in Yogyakarta. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Dance plays an important role in how Javanese people represent themselves to each other and to non-Javanese. This study explores dance forms associated with the Sultan's palace in Yogyakarta, taken up by various interest groups after Indonesian independence. Part One presents a survey of current theoretical approaches to dance for anthropology, their limitations being illustrated by an analysis of palace dance, particularly the classification of forms, movements, and modes, and raises questions about the usefulness of the term 'dance', used here for convenience, not as an essentialised category (Chapters II-III). Implications are developed with reference to fields of aesthetics and semiotics, and I consider the relation of representations to reality (Chapter IV). Part Two introduces data about the traditional associations of these representations. Classifications and model- making in observer and informant accounts lead to how people make sense and how presuppositions generate discourses which allow meaningfulness to be delayed rather than fulfilled, and it is argued that 'poetic' features of this be rejected as constituting grounds for the formulation of the Javanese as 'other' (Chapters V-VI). How these styles of explanation affect our understanding of metaphysical dimensions is explored, from accounts of the self through Javanese theories of knowledge, to current Javanese polemics and what these make theories of communication look like, and how ideas about the past are used in the contest to define authenticity in 'classical' dance in Yogyakarta today (Chapters VII-VIII). The problem of closure in categories is the broadest concern of this study, particularly 'dance', 'Java', and also 'anthropology'. The perspectival approach aims to do justice to the ethnography, and to overcome misrepresentations arising from translations of indigenous terms and discourses. Though ignorance leads the fieldworker to take things too literally, informant ignorance is recognised. What data are is a matter of interpretation, and the conclusion hesitates to posit, and asks instead that we acknowledge our own tendency to create and rest on images, and take more note of what we are doing when we represent other societies to ourselves.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:59

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