6.7. Living Political Alternatives: An Ethnography of Anarchism and Prefiguration among Punks in Yogyakarta


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Louis Plottel (New York University Abu Dhabi)

Abstract

Punk and anarchism, as lived practices that espouse anti­authoritarianism and prefigurative politics as their guiding principles, share a close affinity. Members of each movement share close relationships and draw inspiration from one another’s daily praxis. Yet, while anarchism is considered a viable political alternative, the political value of punk has tended to be overlooked in favor of the punk “identity.” I contend, however, that in contemporary Indonesia, the punk and anarchist movements constitute two nodes within a broader sphere of radical politics. The Do­It­Yourself (DIY) culture of punk, as a means of implementing political alternatives in the here­and­now, exemplifies a core tenet of anarchism: prefiguration. I argue, therefore, that punk is a deeply political movement, embedded in everyday life and quotidian practices. In this paper I consider the overlapping politics of anarchists and punks in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, through ethnographic description of the everyday practice of political dissidence. Drawing upon fieldwork with members of a newly formed anarchist website, anarkis.org, and a punk squat in the north of the city, I also show how political dissidents in Indonesia are fostering connections to global punk and anarchist movements while remaining grounded in local political realities. I contend that punks play an important role in the embodiment of anarchism as a political way of being, while revealing the contours and complexities of radical political movements in Post­Reformasi Indonesia.

Keywords: Anarchism, punk, prefiguration, Do-it-yourself (DIY), political embodiment