Democracy, Corruption and the Politics of Spirits in Contemporary Indonesia
By Nils Bubandt
Published April 30th 2013 by Routledge – 208 pages
Indonesia has been an electoral democracy for more than a decade, and yet the political landscape of the world’s third-largest democracy is as complex and enigmatic as ever. Indonesia is simultaneous a country that has achieved a successful transition to democracy and a flawed, illiberal, and predatory democracy.
This book provides a portrait of Indonesia’s contradictory democracy through a series of biographical accounts of political entrepreneurs, from the political ‘periphery’ of North Maluku and the ‘political centre’ of East Java respectively. Each biographical account is focused on one contentious area of democracy in Indonesia – elections, corruption, decentralization, and regional representation. The chapters explore the intimate ways in which the political world and the spirit world are entangled. The core argument of the book is that Indonesia’s seemingly peculiar problems with democracy and spirits in fact reflect a set of contradictions within democracy itself.
The book will be of interest to academics in the fields of Asian Studies, anthropology and political science and relevant for the study of Indonesian politics and democracy in Asia and beyond.
1. Introduction 2. Election Magic 3. Corruption and Spirits 4. District Sorcery 5. Ancestral Politics 6. Democracy at Large 7. Conclusion
Nils Bubandt is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of Aarhus, Denmark.