Making Scenes

Reggae, Punk, and Death Metal in 1990s Bali

Making Scenes

Book Pages: 248 Illustrations: 12 illustrations Published: December 2007

Author: Emma Baulch

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies, Cultural Studies

In 1996, Emma Baulch went to live in Bali to do research on youth culture. Her chats with young people led her to an enormously popular regular outdoor show dominated by local reggae, punk, and death metal bands. In this rich ethnography, she takes readers inside each scene: hanging out in the death metal scene among unemployed university graduates clad in black T-shirts and ragged jeans; in the punk scene among young men sporting mohawks, leather jackets, and hefty jackboots; and among the remnants of the local reggae scene in Kuta Beach, the island’s most renowned tourist area. Baulch tracks how each music scene arrived and grew in Bali, looking at such influences as the global extreme metal underground, MTV Asia, and the internationalization of Indonesia’s music industry.

Making Scenes is an exploration of the subtle politics of identity that took place within and among these scenes throughout the course of the 1990s. Participants in the different scenes often explained their interest in death metal, punk, or reggae in relation to broader ideas about what it meant to be Balinese, which reflected views about Bali’s tourism industry and the cultural dominance of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital and largest city. Through dance, dress, claims to public spaces, and onstage performances, participants and enthusiasts reworked “Balinese-ness” by synthesizing global media, ideas of national belonging, and local identity politics. Making Scenes chronicles the creation of subcultures at a historical moment when media globalization and the gradual demise of the authoritarian Suharto regime coincided with revitalized, essentialist formulations of the Balinese self.


Making Scenes represents music ethnography at its best. It offers a rich insight into the everyday lived experiences and meanings of punk, death metal and reggae, all the while fleshing this out as an individual and local community negotiation of complex national political change. . . . [T]he key strength of this book is the rich insider knowledge the author is able to offer as a result of her own observation within the communities under discussion. As a result Making Scenes provides an exemplary model of thoroughgoing music ethnography.” — Susan Luckman, International Journal of Cultural Studies

“[A] beautifully written and theoretically sophisticated book. . . presenting a complex and appropriately messy account of musical practice as it plays out in the serious games of Indonesian youth.” — Brent Luvaas, Indonesia

“Baulch takes a positive stance by treating the musical styles under investigation as objects of social practice that are more than reactionary responses to the changing experience of being Balinese. This book does not attempt to write these musical styles off as gestures of angst and youth rebellion. The author treats the subject with a sensitivity and respect for these popular Balinese musical expressions.” — Troy Belford, Anthropology Review Database

“Baulch’s ethnography is a much needed alternative perspective on musical production and consumption in Bali, one that adds to the slowly growing body of literature on Indonesian and Balinese popular and underground music. . . . Making Scenes is an extremely well-written study.” — Andrew C. McGraw, Asian Music

“Emma Baulch explores the self-professed underbelly of 1990s Balinese music culture in a nuanced ethnography that demonstrates a serious and intimate understanding of the people and events she describes. . . . [E]xceptional.” — Laura Noszlopy, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

“Emma Baulch’s detailed ethnography of musical scenes and identity politics in 1990s Bali is a major contribution to the scholarly literature on music and culture in Indonesia. . . . [T]his well-written work stands out among recent publications on Indonesian popular, rock, experimental, and underground music culture. . . . Making Scenes is a well-crafted, insightful exploration of the complex identity politics at work in the social, political, and cultural contexts of 1990s Bali. With its engaging depictions of musical scenes, detailed analyses of youth culture, and deep engagement with cultural theory, this text will appeal to scholars, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students. . .” — Bethany J. Collier, Journal of Asian Studies

“This is an important and readable book with implications for the study of popular music well beyond the Republic of Indonesia. . . . The book describes a rich and diverse set of experiences in the context of a changing political and social structure. For three music scenes in Bali in the 1990s, the author paints a word picture that is interesting in itself, and at the same time challenges academic doxa that blocks understanding rather than leads to it.” — Alan O’Connor, Popular Music

“This landmark study illuminates an important development in Balinese (and indeed Southeast Asian) youth culture: the emergence of elaborate social networks for the grassroots-based production, dissemination, consumption, and performance of Western popular music, particularly ‘underground’ rock genres. . . . Rather than focus on a single style of popular music, Baulch’s study is laudable for its emphasis on three competing genres: reggae, punk, and metal.” — Jeremy Wallach, Journal of Anthropological Research

Making Scenes is as good a balance of theoretical innovation, ethnographic observation, and musical ‘scene’ analysis as I have seen in a long time. It is also the best account I have seen of the international circulation of 1990s alternative U.S. rock outside the United States.” — Will Straw, author of Cyanide and Sin: Visualizing Crime in 50s America

“Timely and engaging, Making Scenes is a wonderful and needed contribution to scholarship on Bali, to debates over the relationship between Birmingham School cultural studies and the work of area studies, and to the transnational study of popular music.” — Laurie J. Sears, editor of Knowing Southeast Asian Subjects


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Emma Baulch is a Senior Research Associate in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Note on Spelling, Names ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1. Messy Decay 15

2. Gesturing Elsewhere 49

3. Reggae Borderzones, Reggae Graveyards 73

4. Punk's Beginnings 91

5. Grounding Punk 113

6. Metal Blossoms 145

Conclusion 177

Notes 187

Glossary 199

References 205

Index 217
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4115-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4095-9
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