Photography and Chineseness: reflections on Chinese Muslims in Indonesia
ABSTRACT This paper takes my previous photobook, Chinese Muslims in Indonesia (2007-09) as starting point. The paper firstly details the motivations, methodology and findings of the work. It then advances some of my thoughts on photography, with its attentive focus on the particular. Photography, or documenting (as method), frames a performative and experiential space for the sitter and the photographer to project their desires in this collaborative encounter. Here, I discuss the performative in relation both to the issue of reactivity in sociological fieldwork and the cultural turn in dakwah amongst some Chinese Muslim leaders in the post-Suharto era. The subjectivity of each encounter helps to visualise and complicate the notion of Chineseness amongst the Chinese Muslim communities in Indonesia.
KEYWORDS: Chinese Muslims; Indonesia; identity-making; Chineseness; Sinophone; Dakwah; photography; performative; documenting as method
Zhuang Wubin (born in 1978; Singapore) is a researcher focusing on the photographic practices of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. As an artist, he uses photography and text to visualise the shifting experiences of Chineseness in Southeast Asia.