Note on “Signposts”
Starting soon, I will include in this blog a series of essays written in the style of Tempo magazine’s “Catatan Pinggir” (Sidelines). The essays, called “Signposts,” will cover a wide range of issues, written in the form of op-ed essays but also presented as theoretical reflections that highlight themes relevant to anthropological debates. I find the exercise writing this kind of essay very helpful to bring theories into public realm and to liberate theories from their jargons without necessarily compromising the ideas or concepts that the theories seek to illuminate. Most scholars often employ categorical styles of writing, writing either in the style of social scientific language or op-ed articles without paying attention to theoretical reflections. This exercise is aimed to demonstrate that one does not necessarily require jargonistic language if one needs to reflect on certain issues theoretically. A few anthropologists (e.g. Keith Basso, Clifford Geertz, Kenneth George, Kirin Narayan, etc.) have labored to show that one can present theories poetically. My “Signposts” are far from a poetic writing, but I want to invite readers to see that we can discuss theories without using jargons. This is my literary experimentation.
I will write “Signposts” in two languages. Sometimes I will write in English, some other times in Indonesian.