In Indonesia, light skin color has been desirable throughout recorded history. Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia, by L. Ayu Saraswati, explores Indonesia’s changing beauty ideals and traces them to a number of influences: first to ninth-century India and some of the oldest surviving Indonesian literary works; then, a thousand years later, to the impact of Dutch colonialism and the wartime occupation of Japan; and finally, in the post-colonial period, to the popularity of American culture.
“In this book L. Ayu Saraswati offers a lucid and compelling accounting of how ideas of beauty and race circulate and become affective in transnational Indonesia. Offering a distinctive approach to global culture as an affective domain, as well a sharp and nuanced critique of histories of whiteness, this book will be of tremendous value to all scholars and students interested in unlearning the affective and aesthetic scripts of race.” —Sara Ahmed, Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012)
Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning and Memory
March 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3736-5 / $25.00 (PAPER)