A.C.A.B. – Studying Up the Rule of Law in Banda Aceh, Indonesia

My latest co-authored article “ACAB: Studying up the rule of law in Banda Aceh, Indonesia” with Acehnese punk Yudi Bolong is freshly out in Punk & Post Punk 6(2) Special Issue on ’Researching Punk Indonesia’

The article is a textual continuation for multi-sited ethnographic research that I have conducted between 2013-16, focusing in particular to social media, busking in the streets in the city of Banda Aceh, prison, and the court house and trial documentation.

The article draws attention to more mundane experiences of structural and physical violence and the obstacles, resourcefulness and ways of coping after the height of the global punk solidarity campaign of 2012 had passed.

Drawing attention to silences in global solidarity efforts and the local media when the ‘Shari’a morality vs the right to be punk’ issue is not in focus, the article challenges such binaries, arguing that they hinder understanding of the everyday experience of punk, and overlook the wider misuse of state power, violations of rule of law, and the violent political economy in the post-conflict context of Aceh.

Thus, it is argued that the punks in Aceh are constantly studying the hierarchies and relations of power through their embodied and gendered existence in the city. Attention to their everyday experience draws attention to their active negotiation of space and agency within such hierarchies.

The special issue editor Jim Donaghey interviewed contributor researchers for his methodological piece “Researching ‘Punk Indonesia’: notes towards a non-exploitative insider methodology” and his interview with me can be read in full here. The interview centers around research motivations, methodology, questions of insider/outsider to Acehnese punk scene, research as experience and affects, and how the research as been received by the punks, authorities, academic community, and general public.