IACS Conference 2015


Undercurrents: Unearthing Hidden Social and Discursive Practices

DATES:7-9 August 2015

VENUE: Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia

ORGANIZERS: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society, University of Indonesia and Airlangga University

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Prof. Abidin Kusno, University of British Columbia, Canada


  1. Courting ecological disaster: movement, subversion, corruption
  2. Para-sites: Alternative space and knowledge production
  3. ‘Free man’, mafia and underground economy
  4. Healing and killing: ‘pharmakon’ and alternative modernity
  5. Uncharted border, illegitimate transnationality, diaspora
  6. Voices of the supernatural: ghosts, cults, spirit mediums
  7. Challenging urbanity: rural, underclass, urban guerillas
  8. Theorizing emergent movements: arts, youth, social media, politics
  9. Surviving political violence: memory, narratives, performativity
  10. Secrecy, blasphemy, laughter and promiscuity: grafting unsacred codes
  11. Performing sexuality: communities and practices
  12. Fetishizing the culinary: ‘foodporn’ and the body



Why was the city of Surabaya chosen to host our 2015 IACS Conference? Surabaya plays a critical role in the development of grassroots movements in Indonesia. The country’s struggle for independence from the Dutch colonialism reached its peak with the famed November 10 Battle against the Dutch Army in Surabaya (celebrated as Indonesia’s Memorial Day). The city is also well-known for its multicultural, vibrant, and egalitarian denizens.  The rural-urban and boundary-crossing dynamics of this 700-year-old port city is indisputable. It becomes a perfect venue for our conference due to the widely-recognized creativity of its inhabitants in seeking innovative solutions to life problems that the mainstream power structures cannot accommodate in the economic, social, cultural, and political realms. In recent years, Surabaya has impressed the international public in Southeast Asia, as well as Asia, for its pioneering capability of transforming polluted industrial zones marked by densely populated slum areas into a city dazzlingly characterized by dominant public green spaces.


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Pesona-Pantai-KanjeranCheng_Hoo_MosqueSurabaya is also curiously located very close to the epicenter of the uncontainable underground geological eruptions: the renown – albeit infamous – Lapindo Mud. These eruptions, as well as the prolonged suffering and unyielding struggle of the people affected by the mud flood in seeking reparative justice and steadfastly fighting against the existing power structures, have inspired Cultural Studies scholars both locally and nation-wide. The Lapindo case maintains a symbolic significance as it underscores the intersectionality of ecology, Cultural Studies, and complex, multi-dimensional cultural movements.

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