When Hierarchy Ceases to Enchant

14:15 to 15:30

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies invites to this talk by Ward Keeler, in which he brings together two realms of intellectual inquiry—the performing arts and contemporary politics—not to look for political content in the arts but rather to demonstrate how the arts give form to unstated but highly consequential assumptions about social and political relations. In all three societies in Southeast Asia where I have done fieldwork (Java, Bali, and Burma), the classical arts have suffered serious declines in patronage and spectatorship. They have been radically modified, with the aim of attracting wider, younger audiences. But new genres, including soap operas and sporting events on television, have become much more popular. Religious performances (public sermons, textual readings, etc.) have also grown newly frequent and well-attended. In this talk, Keeler links these developments to recent social change that has diminished people’s confidence in the benefits of the hierarchical arrangements that used to organize people’s relations with power, and which the classical arts both illustrated and sustained. 

Read more about the seminar here.

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University

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