Abstract - The Information Society 24(3)

Sex, Cannibals and the Language of Cool: Indonesian Tales of the Phone and Modernity

Bart Barendregt

In Indonesia mobile technology has come at the end of 35 years of the Suharto regime, and in its aftermath an era of new openness. Not surprisingly mobile phones are by many Indonesians associated with the new freedoms of this post-1998 period, facilitating newly emergent youth cultures, a hip mobile lifestyle as well as experiments with novel sexual identities. In a country characterized by stark contrasts, - between centre and periphery, city and countryside, and between the rich and the poor, - this has at the same time resulted in an uneven spread of technology, and thus in the co-existence of very diverse cellular markets. Through deliberating the pros and cons of mobile technology, new possibilities the phone seems to offer, as well as the often-creative solutions people find in gaining access to mobility, it is shown how Indonesians try coming to terms with the otherwise abstract notion of (post)modernity.


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