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Afterlives and alter-lives: how competitions produce (neoliberal?) subjects in Indonesia

Long, Nicholas J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4088-1661 (2022) Afterlives and alter-lives: how competitions produce (neoliberal?) subjects in Indonesia. Social Analysis, 66 (4). 112 - 133. ISSN 0155-977X

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Identification Number: 10.3167/sa.2022.660406


Indonesia has long employed competitions as means of improving ‘human resource quality,’ believing competitions to elicit fantasies of achievement that, even if unrealized, motivate participants to self-cultivate in ways generative for the nation. Meanwhile, scholarly critics argue that such policies encourage a counterproductive competitive individualism that serves the interests of neoliberal capitalism. This article complicates both of these understandings of what competition does. I show that Indonesians may participate in competitions out of a desire to provide for, and receive recognition from, family, mentors, and the state. When the afterlives of competition fail to live up to this ideal, competitors can become alienated from the relations and institutions they blame for thwarting the ‘alter-life’ that could have been, subsequently embracing individualism and the market.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 Berghahn.
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2023 10:18
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 14:45

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