Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia

Hardback: $52.00
ISBN-13: 9780824836641
Published: March 2013
Paperback: $25.00
ISBN-13: 9780824837365
Published: March 2013

Additional Information

200 pages
  • About the Book
  • In Indonesia, light skin color has been desirable throughout recorded history. Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race 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. The book shows how the transnational circulation of people, images, and ideas have shaped and shifted discourses and hierarchies of race, gender, skin color, and beauty in Indonesia. The author employs “affect” theories and feminist cultural studies as a lens through which to analyze a vast range of materials, including the Old Javanese epic poem Ramayana, archival materials, magazine advertisements, commercial products, and numerous interviews with Indonesian women.

    The book offers a rich repertoire of analytical and theoretical tools that allow readers to rethink issues of race and gender in a global context and understand how feelings and emotions—Western constructs as well as Indian, Javanese, and Indonesian notions such as rasa and malu—contribute to and are constitutive of transnational and gendered processes of racialization. Saraswati argues that it is how emotions come to be attached to certain objects and how they circulate that shape the “emotionscape” of white beauty in Indonesia. Her ground-breaking work is a nuanced theoretical exploration of the ways in which representations of beauty and the emotions they embody travel geographically and help shape attitudes and beliefs toward race and gender in a transnational world.

  • About the Author(s)
    • L. Ayu Saraswati, Author

    • David P. Chandler, Series Editor

    • Rita Smith Kipp, Series Editor

  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • This book, authored by Indonesian scholar L. Ayu Saraswati, has made a significant contribution to the representation of emotions about people of different race, gender, and skin color in beauty advertising . . . This book shows us how the issue of skin color can be a very global issue and socially contribute to the problem of discrimination. It is pivotal to translate this book into the Indonesian language in order to deliver the message to audiences, in particular to Indonesian audiences, that the skin color issue is also a social issue within the society.
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